AMHERSTBURG FREEEDOM MUSEUM
Simpson Family (Levi’s Line)
Simpson Family History (Levi Simpson’s Line) Part 1 – Service in the Upper Canada Rebellion
While researching this month’s family, I came across substantial information for two branches of the Simpson family. As a result, the Simpson family history will be spread throughout February and March. During the month of February, the line of Levi Simpson will be highlighted, while March will celebrate the line of James Simpson who is the ancestor of Museum founder, Melvin ‘Mac’ Simpson.
Levi Simpson Sr. was born in Kentucky. According to our records, his mother was enslaved, while his father was white. He married Elizabeth Hutchinson who was born in Manchester, England. According to the Museum’s family history collection, Elizabeth’s siblings included Ruth, Mary and Ann, in addition to three other sisters who are not named but the surnames of their husbands are: McGruder, Taylor and Grayer. Elizabeth’s brothers include Charles and John.
Within the Museum’s collection is a paylist of Captain Caldwell’s Company which served during the Upper Canada Rebellion. On this list is Levi Simpson. According to Irene Moore Davis’ article “Canadian Black Settlements in the Detroit River Region”, found in the book A Fluid Frontier: Slavery, Resistance and the Underground Railroad in the Detroit River Borderland, “In December 1837, during the 1837-38 Mackenzie Rebellion, the Reverend Josiah Henson’s company of black volunteers attached to the Essex Militia was part of the group that captured the rebel schooner Anne and made prisoners of its crew … Josiah Henson’s unit defended Fort Malden [in Amherstburg] from Christmas 1837 to May 1838, and another company of 123 black volunteers, Captain Caldwell’s Coloured Corps, was subsequently stationed there for two months. The black volunteers showed such bravery that Lieutenant Governor Sir Francis Bond Head commented on their service in his remarks to the legislature of Upper Canada in March 1838.”
Levi and Elizabeth’s children include Levi Jr., Mary Ann, William H., George, Elizabeth Victoria, Susanna, Nancy, Amy, Eliza, and Mahala. First we’ll discuss Levi Simpson Jr. Records from the Museum’s collection indicate that he was born circa February 1828 in Michigan, and his first wife was born in Ohio but is not named. They had six children: Sarah, Charles, Martha J., Ellen, Levi III, Simon, and Peter. The 1871 Census for Colchester lists Levi as a widower living with his children and his brother George. The children listed are Sarah, Ozias (which could be Charles), Martha J. and Ellen. Levi married a second time in 1884 to a woman named Elizabeth who was born in Canada. She and Levi did not have any children.
Levi’s sister Mary Ann is next. She married twice. Her first marriage was to Daniel Johnston and the second was to Stephen Taylor. Mary Ann and Daniel’s children included Eliza and George. Eliza Jane Monroe’s death record lists her parents as Mary Ann Simpson and Daniel Johnston and she passed away on November 20, 1923 in Windsor at the age of 64. Her obituary from November 23, 1923 adds that she was the wife of James P. Monroe and the mother of three daughters Mrs. Ada Watson, Mrs. Laura Peterson, Mrs. Hazel Jasper, and three sons, Arthur, Clarence and John. The birth records for these and additional children were also available. Edith May Munroe was born on June 18, 1881 in Essex, while James Arthur Munroe was born on October 3, 1882 in Windsor. Their sibling Frederick was born on April 1, 1885 in Windsor, while Laura Bell Monroe was born on July 4, 1897 in Windsor and later married Charles Peterson, the son of Frederick Peterson and Louise Derrick. The couple married on November 23, 1921 in Windsor. Laura’s sister Ada Rebecca (Edith Jane) Monroe was born on December 15, 1888 in Windsor, and she married James N. Watson, son of John N. and Maggie Watson. Ada and James married on March 29, 1911 in Windsor. The next child of Eliza Jane Johnson Monroe is Hazel Elizabeth who was born on April 6, 1889 in Windsor and her brother Clarence was born on January 10, 1895 in Windsor. This record lists Clarence’s father James as an engineer. The last available birth record for Eliza Jane Johnston Monroe’s children is for John Henry who was born on January 14, 1901 in Windsor.
Eliza was not the only child of Mary Ann Simpson and Daniel Johnston. They also had a son named George. According to his marriage record, he married Jane White, the daughter of George Thompson and Eliza Ford. They married in Colchester on December 12, 1906. At the time, both George and Jane were widow(er)s, but their former spouses’ names are not listed.
As mentioned, Mary Ann’s second husband was Stephen Taylor. The Museum’s collection lists their children as Frank, Elizabeth, Henry, John and Charles, but documents for a few other children were also found. No information was available for Frank, Henry or Charles, but a marriage record for Gilbert Taylor was. He married Sarah Nelson, the daughter of John Nelson and Harriet Mulder, on May 11, 1911 in Windsor. According to the marriage record for Gilbert’s brother John Taylor, he married Gertrude Franklin on March 26, 1901 in Detroit. John’s sister, Mary Elizabeth, according to her marriage record, married Milton Coates, the son of Milton and Fanny Coates, on August 22, 1891 in Colchester. The 1901 Census lists Milton Coates and his wife Marie E. (Mary Elizabeth) and their daughter Rosa A. The 1911 Census includes Milton, Mary and Rosa Brice, along with Rosa’s daughter Vera. Also listed is Milton’s mother Fannie Coates.
Mary Ann (Simpson) Johnston Taylor’s death record states that she was born on July 4, 1833 and that she was a widowed housewife who passed on September 20, 1912 in Colchester South. Her obituary shares further details and states that she “passed away on Friday last in the 87th year of her age, and was interred in Central Grove cemetery on Monday afternoon services having first been conducted in Central Grove church. Deceased was one of the oldest natives of this township. Her maiden name was Mary Ann Simpson, and she was a daughter of the late Levi Simpson. She had three brothers, all of whom are dead and five sisters, of whom the following are living: Mrs. George Thomas, of Windsor, and Mrs. Lizzie Davis, of Chatham. The other sisters were Mrs. Anthony Bank, Mrs. Amy Perry and Mrs. Eliza Lewis. She married Stephen Taylor, who predeceased her some years. Their family consisted of the following members: Henry and Gilbert, of the Union depot, Detroit; John, a lake cook, whose home is at Puce; Francis, of the Wabash, Detroit; Elizabeth, Mrs. Milton Coates, of Colchester South; Eliza, Mrs. Morace, and Mrs. Nancy Thomas of Windsor.”
What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps. See you next week for part 2.
Simpson Family History (Levi Simpson’s Line) Part 2 – Chatham Connection
There was no information available for Mary Ann’s brothers William H. and George, but there was for the next child of Levi Simpson and Elizabeth Hutchinson, Elizabeth Victoria Simpson. She was born in Colchester on April 22, 1840 and later married Absalom Davis. According to their marriage record, Elizabeth and Absalom married on April 22, 1861 in Detroit. The 1871 Census lists Absalom and Elizabeth with their children Elizabeth, William, Francis, James, and Peter. The following decade Absalom, Elizabeth, William, Franklin, James, and Peter are listed with the addition of Absalom, Sarah Jane, Lydia A., and Levi. In this Census the neighboring property is owned by Peter Davis, aged 97, who could possibly be Absalom’s father or at least relative. The 1891 Census adds to the list of children with Walter and Alberta, who is likely Lydia A. mentioned in the previous Census.
No further information was available for Elizabeth and Absalom’s daughter Elizabeth, but there are records for William, Francis, James, Peter, Absalom, Alberta, and Walter. Let us start with William H. Davis. According to his marriage record, he married Lely (Lily) Lucas, the daughter of Richard and Rachel Lucas, on June 10, 1896. An additional marriage record reveals that William married a second time on December 27, 1899 in Dresden to Julia Lucas, also the daughter of Richard Lucas and Rachel Jones. A family tree located in the Museum’s collection lists the children of Rachael Jones and Richard Lucas including two daughters Barbara Lillie Lucas (1869-1899) and Melvina Julia Lucas (1878-1970) who are both listed as marrying William Davis. The chart adds that Lillie and William had a son named John Davis (1897-1918) but he died in military service. No children are listed on the chart for Julia and William.
Francis (or Frank), the next son of Elizabeth Simpson and Absalom Davis, married Susan Henry Wallace, “Minnie,” the daughter of Littleton T. Wallace and Mary Lacy Miles, born in Charles City County and Chickahominy territories. The couple married on December 21, 1898 in Dresden. Francis’ brother James was married to Minnie Ophelia Butler. At least three of their children can be identified as George Augustas Davis, born October 9, 1909 in Chatham Township; Nelina Davis, born on August 4, 1911 in Chatham; and Clara Bell Davis, born November 21, 1906 in Chatham.
James’ brother Peter married Jennie Jones, the daughter of Josephus Jones and Lucy Boswell. Peter and Jennie married on June 24, 1899 in Chatham. He and his family are listed in the 1911 Chatham Census which includes Peter and his wife Jennie and their children Silvia, Jennie and Gladyus. Also found was the death record for another child of Peter Davis named Absalom who sadly passed away on November 30, 1915 in Chatham. At the time he was 83 years old, a widower, and a farmer. Already mentioned is Peter and Jennie’s (listed as Jennette Ann Jones) daughter Jennie Elizabeth Davis. She was born on November 7, 1903 in Chatham and later married Donald Charles Campbell on December 21, 1921 in Dresden. Donald was the son of John D. Campbell and Christie McCartnine. Lastly, a delayed statement of birth was found for Sylvia Alberta Davis who was born on August 4, 1900 in Chatham Township.
Next is Peter’s brother Absalom Davis who married Ann B. Handsor, the daughter of William Handsor and Rachel Prisby. Absalom and Ann married on December 3, 1902 in Dover, Kent County. According to Absalom’s death record, he passed away on June 23, 1937 in Chatham. In this document Ann’ name is listed as Annee Burrell Davis. Information for three of their children (Luella Marie, Genevieve, and Irma) was available. Luella Marie’s birth record states that she was born on August 24, 1908 in Chatham. She later married Thomas Mathew Milben, the son of Howard Milben and Julia Richardson. They married on September 22, 1927 in Chatham. Interestingly, this document lists Luella’s mother as Burley Handsor, while Luella’s sister Genevieve’s birth record from October 7, 1909 (Chatham) lists Ann as Anna Burl Handsor. Lastly, Irma Leo Davis’s birth record lists July 1, 1911 in Chatham as the date of birth.
Absalom’s sister and the next child of Elizabeth Simpson and Absalom Davis is Lydia A. who is also listed as Alberta at times. In the 1911 Census Alberta is listed with her husband Edward Campbell and their daughter Odessa who was born on September 29, 1906 in Chatham. On her birth record she is listed as Odessa Maude Campbell.
Alberta’s brother Walter married Annie Highgate, the daughter of James Henderson Highgate and Emma Snook. They married on October 4, 1911 in Chatham. Information for two of their children, James Alvy and Goldie Odessa, were found. James Alvy’s birth record states that he was born on April 25, 1912 in Chatham, while Goldie Odessa Davis’ death record states that she was born on January 17, 1928 and she sadly passed away a few days later, on January 24, 1928 in Kent.
What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps. See you next week for part 3.
Simpson Family History (Levi Simpson’s Line) Part 3 – The County Constable
Now that we have discussed the children of Elizabeth Victoria Simpson Davis, we will move on to her remaining siblings: Susanna, Nancy, Amy, Eliza, and Mahala. Susanna Simpson was born in North Colchester Township on March 9, 1845. Susanna married Anthony Banks, the son of William Banks and Esther Malawice (Fields) Banks, who contributed to the progress of Essex County and broke down barriers (See Banks Family https://amherstburgfreedom.org/banks-family/ ). It was on April 12, 1881 that the Crown Attorney of Essex County, S.S. MacDonnell, appointed Anthony Banks as the Constable of Essex County, making him the first Black Canadian to hold this position in Ontario. In 1892, he was also appointed the Deputy Warden for the Ontario Game and Fishing Commission, which meant that he enforced game and fishery laws for the province. This was in addition to acting as a school trustee, Treasurer and Roadmaster as he was labelled in the Amherstburg Echo. Anthony Banks held the position of Constable for Essex County for almost 50 years and when he retired, the Amherstburg Echo gifted Anthony with a lifetime subscription. He certainly earned this gift.
Anthony’s obituary from October 1929 shares further details of his life and says “Anthony Banks, aged 89 years, 3 months and 3 days, died at his home in Colchester South on Thursday evening. Death was due to old age. Mr. Banks was one of the township’s oldest citizens and during his life took an active interest in township and political affairs. He was appointed County Constable by the late S.S. McDonnell, then Crown Attorney of Essex County, and for a quarter of a century he was very active in the work at a time when there was a great deal of hectic court work to do. He also served as school trustee. He was born in Colchester South, the son of an escaped slave from the United States, who fled that country and came to Canada to be free. He was twice married, the first time to Susan Simpson, and to them a family of fourteen children was born, nine of who are living, W. Ervin, of Toronto, Walter, of Colchester North; who is a County Constable, Gordon of California, Bert and James of Buffalo and Eli at home, Mrs. Martha Dennis, Mrs. Delia Garvin and Mrs. Cora White all of Detroit. During his life, Mr. Banks philosophy of life was that he would rather wear out than rust out. He had a long life of usefulness and counted his friends by the hundreds. About twenty years ago after the death of his first wife, he was married to a widow, Mrs. William Ridout, who survives him. Funeral services were held in Central Grove Church on Sunday at 2p.m. and were conducted by the Rev. Levi Wells, of Virginia, a nephew of the deceased. The pallbearers were five sons, W. Ervin, Walter, Bert, Eli and James also a nephew Si Simpson, of Detroit. Burial was in Central Grove cemetery.”
Susanna Simpson, Anthony’s wife, passed away twenty years before Anthony in February 1909 and her obituary says “We regret to record this week the death of Mrs. Anthony Banks; who passed away on Sunday following a short illness with pneumonia, aged 63 years. The deceased was a daughter of the late Levi Simpson and was born in this township. The family consisted of ten children as follows: Irving, Walter, Darius, John B., Garnet, all Grand Trunk chefs; Todd, at home; Gordon, in Washington Territory; Mrs. Martha Dennis, Detroit; and two daughters at home. Besides these she leaves three sisters and two brothers. The funeral took place on Tuesday afternoon, services being conducted by Rev. Peter Brookes and burial was in Central Grove cemetery, the pallbearers being six sons – Walter, Irving, Darius, John B., Garnet, and Todd. Much sympathy is extended the bereaved husband and family.”
As mentioned in the obituaries for Anthony and Susan, they had several children including nine boys: William Erving, Walter, George, James, John, Gordon, Garnett, Anthony Jr., and Eli, and five girls Emma, Elzora, Martha, Adella, and Cora. Except for Cora, Garnett, Eli and Anthony Jr. (twins), all of their children were born in a log cabin owned by Anthony’s mother, Esther. Esther’s farm was one hundred acres of land with a log cabin and a cemetery for the burial of family members. The four children, mentioned above, were born in the family home that Anthony built, which was on 54 acres of land in South Colchester. After Susan’s passing, Anthony married a widow, Katherine Rideout, from Colchester South, on 11 March 1910; they had no children.
Among Anthony and Susan’s children was their daughters Adella, who married Julius Mumford Garvin of Detroit on October 7, 1914. They had a daughter Katherine and owned a small dressmaking shop, while Cora, who is mentioned above, was born on September 18, 1891 and married Blake White on July 4, 1917. Martha was born on July 19, 1943 and married Frank Dennis, and had one child, Walter, who was born on September 22, 1896. All three sisters resided in Detroit. Emma was born on September 24, 1865 and was buried behind her grandmother’s log cabin. Elzora was born in 1866, but died in infancy. She, like Emma, was buried in the cemetery behind her grandmother’s log cabin.
Anthony and Susan’s son W. Erving was born on August 6, 1863 and was married four times. First to Henrietta Bradford, second to Willa Ann, third was Mrs. Barnes and his fourth wife was Gertrude. He was also a chef with New York Central and Canadian National Railway for over 30 years and was known to meet “friends from South Essex on the International Limited, one of the … trains of the C.N.R. system.”
George was born on February 7, 1871 and married Carrie Simpson. They had a daughter, Viola. George’s brothers, John and James, owned a saloon in Saginaw, Michigan and James was also a chef for the Canadian National Railroad. Garnett, born on April 5, 1885, never married and was employed by the C.N.R. It was during one of his trips with the C.N.R. that he fell into a lake in Northern Ontario. He developed tuberculosis which sadly caused his death at age 26. Anthony Jr. and Eli were born on December 1, 1886. Eli, also known as Todd, never married and farmed the family homestead. Susan and Anthony’s other son, Gordon, was listed as living “in the west,” possibly in Oakland, California, while Walter married a schoolteacher, Elvia Dixon of Windsor on January 15, 1897. They had no children, but Walter followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a County Constable. Walter also had a farm in Colchester North. Farming was common in the Banks family, as they farmed the land, raising cattle and chickens, growing fruits and vegetables, churning butter, producing flour and growing tobacco. Anthony Banks owned 116 acres of Lot 9 on Concession 3 in South Colchester, which was worth $3,000.
Anthony’s granddaughter, Cordella, wrote that the Banks’ family home was “open to all who were either homeless or who needed temporary shelter. Thus, one could always find an assortment of friends or relatives who lived with the family from time to time.” Cordella mentions one specific example, “Uncle Ben” Murray, who escaped enslavement in Virginia and lived with the Banks family as an elderly man. Cordella recalls her mother’s memory of sitting for hours listening to Uncle Ben tell stories about his life while enslaved and how he, along with his brother, escaped to Canada “by following the ‘North Star’ and putting cayenne pepper in their tracks so the bloodhounds could not pursue them.”
It is now time to move on to Susanna Simpson Banks’ sister, Nancy. According to her obituary, she was born on March 10, 1844. She married more than once. Her first marriage was to James/Francis Harris, her second was to Franklin Wells and her third marriage was to Robert A. Thomas. Nancy and Francis Harris had at least three children: Cora, Levinia/Lavinia and Mary. Cora married Charles S. Mitchell who is referred to as Mead Mitchell in their marriage record and his parents are listed as Francis and Priscilla Mitchell. The death record for Cora Anna Mitchell states that she passed on July 22, 1944 in Kalamazoo, Michigan at the age of 78. It also states that she was born on December 21, 1865 in Windsor.
Cora’s sister Lavinia Ellen Harris married David Foster, the son of Henry and Annie Foster, on March 1, 1887 in Windsor. The 1911 Census lists David and Levinie (Lavinia) with their children: Fredie, David, and Willfred. No information was available for Fredie, but David Augustus Foster was born on February 9, 1897 in Anderdon. He later married Lena Marie Green, the daughter of Hugh Green, on June 9, 1916 in Windsor. David’s brother Wilfred Harold Foster was born on May 29, 1903 in Anderdon. Their mother Lavinia Simpson Foster’s death record states that she passed away on June 11, 1923 in Windsor at the age of 54.
As previously mentioned, Nancy Simpson married more than once. Her second marriage was to Frank Wells. The 1891 Census lists Franklin Wells with Nancy and their children: Albert, Lillie and Levi Charles, but records for an additional child, Maude, was found. According to his birth record, Albert Arthur Wells was born on August 17, 1876 in Windsor, while his sister Maude R. Wells was born on October 13, 1878 in Windsor. Their brother Charles Levi Wells married Claudie Adeen Harris, the daughter of John and Lucinda Harris. Their children included Cora Lavinia who was born on October 4, 1904 in Windsor and Charles Franklin who was born on October 27, 1912. Charles Franklin sadly passed away less than two years later, on February 23, 1914.
Nancy Simpson’s third marriage was to Robert A. Thomas. He was the son of Robert and Winifred Thomas, and the couple married on December 7, 1904. At the time, Robert was 65 and Nancy was 50. Interestingly, Nancy’s death record lists her as English because of her mother Elizabeth Hutchinson who, as mentioned previously, was born in Manchester, England. On Nancy’s death record, it states that her mother Elizabeth was born “At Sea.”
What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps. See you next week for part 4.
Simpson Family History (Levi Simpson’s Line) Part 4 – The Basketball Star
The next child of Levi Simpson and Elizabeth Hutchinson is Amy. She married John H. Perry and they had at least eight children, but sadly only two survived any length of time. According to the Museum’s collection, the surviving children were George and John. George’s marriage record states that he married Susan Jackson, the daughter of Peter Jackson and Mahalia Powell, on November 19, 1887 in Detroit. George’s death record states that he passed away on August 26, 1932 in Jackson, Michigan, but was born on March 20, 1858.
There is a second marriage record for Amy Simpson Perry and Levi Mitchell, the son of Henderson and Elizabeth Mitchell, from July 2, 1891 in Colchester. Also found was another marriage record for Emma Keziah Simpson Mitchell, the daughter of Levi and Elizabeth Simpson, to Henry William White, the son of Austin White and Martha Jane Mitchell. The couple married on December 25, 1904 in Colchester and there is a possibility that Emma Keziah is also Amy, or at least one of her siblings.
There are only two more children of Levi and Elizabeth Simpson to discuss: Eliza J. and Mahala. Eliza J. Simpson married Henry Long, the son of James and Lucinda Long. According to the Museum’s collection, Eliza and Henry had at least three children: Susan, Lizzie (m. Brooks), and Eliza. Eliza J. married a second time to Matthew Lewis. Their children include Julia A. (m. James Baylis and William Talbert), twins Albert and Alvin, Nancy, twins Mary and Martha, and twins Ida (m. Jim Artis) and Eliza (m. Crosby). The 1871 Census lists Mathew, Eliza and their children Elizabeth, Susan, Julia, and Nancy, but also lists another child: John. The 1881 Census lists Mathew Lewis with his children Julia, Nancy, John, Martha, Albert, Eliza and Ida. Further information was available for Julia, Albert, Nancy, Mary Ann, Martha, and Alzora who is not recorded in the Census records previously mentioned. According to the marriage record for Julia Ann Lewis, she married James H. Baylis, the son of Henry and Mary Jean Baylis. They married on May 17, 1882 in Colchester. The couple had at least one son named James Bert Baylis who was born on March 23, 1887 in Macomb, Michigan. Julia married again as her death record lists her as Julia Talbert, daughter of Eliza and Mathew Lewis. Her husband’s name is not listed in this document, but the Museum’s collection lists her husband as William Talbert. She passed on October 29, 1939 in Ypsilanti, Michigan at the age of 72. This record also states that she was born on February 17, 1867.
Julia’s brother Albert Lewis married Almeda Hurst, the daughter of Hilliard Hurst and Amanda Chavis, on April 18, 1898 in Harrow. Almeda was born circa 1877 in Colchester South. According to their marriage record, Almeda worked as a “domestic” while Albert was a “cook.” The couple had one daughter named Eliza who was born on July 17, 1898. She married a carpenter named William Scott, who was the son of Henry Scott and Mary Hill. The couple was married on September 19, 1917.
The death record for Albert Lewis states that he passed away on January 29, 1934 in Colchester. Albert’s obituary from the Amherstburg Echo shares more details and says he “was born in Colchester South, the son of Matthew and Eliza Simpson Lewis, and was living on Erie Street in Harrow until last spring when his house was burned and he moved into the township where he was employed at odd jobs. He was married to Almeda Hurst, daughter of the late Hilliard Hurst, who survives him, 35 years ago. Their only child, Eliza, died some years ago. Surviving him besides his wife are five sisters, Nancy, Mrs. Arthur Coates, Harrow; Mrs. Eliza Brooks and Mrs. Susan Armstrong, Romeo, Mich.; Miss Martha Lewis and Mrs. Julia Talbot, Ypsilanti, Mich.; and one brother, John, of Harrow. The funeral will be held this (Friday) afternoon at Central Grove Church at 1:30 o’clock with interment following in Central Grove cemetery.”
Albert’s sister and the next child of Eliza Simpson and Mathew Lewis, Nancy, is up next. She married Arthur Coates, son of Milton Coates and Fannie Reynolds, on April 5, 1921 in Detroit. Nancy’s death record states that she died on May 9, 1944 in Detroit at the age of 77 and was born in Harrow on January 1, 1867.
Nancy’s twin sisters Mary Ann and Martha were born on March 4, 1872 in Colchester, while their sister Alzora married Henry Hurst, the son of Ransom and Ellen Hurst. Alzora and Henry married in June of 1884 in Amherstburg. Henry was born circa 1859 in Harrow, and their marriage record says that Henry was a farmer and 23 years of age, while Alzora was 16.
The last child of Levi Simpson and Elizabeth Hutchinson that we will discuss is Mahala, also referred to as Sarah. She married George Arthur Thomas, the son of John and Susan Ann Thomas, on November 18, 1873 in Windsor. No obituary was available in the Amherstburg Echo but her death record, which refers to her as Sarah Mahalie Thomas, states that she died on December 3, 1930 in Windsor at the age of 81 and that she was a widow. It also states that she was born on April 16, 1849. Mahala Simpson and George Thomas had at least six children: Ina, George Arthur, Sarah Myrtle, Walter Alexander, Charles Frederick, and Maude Elizabeth. Ina married William A. Shadd, the son of Garrison and Harriet Shadd, on May 7, 1902 in Windsor. Ina’s death record also states that she passed away on September 3, 1923 in Raleigh, Kent County at the age of 45.
Ina’s brother George Arthur was born on April 6, 1880, but sadly passed away in August of the same year. George’s sister Sarah Myrtle Thomas was born on September 1, 1881 and later married Ferdinand Henderson, the son of William Henderson and Amelia Edwards. The couple married on March 26, 1902 in Windsor and Ferdinand, at this time, worked as a salesman.
Sarah Myrtle’s brother Walter Alexander was born on June 17, 1885 and later married Alma Lillian Deshatta on June 25, 1912. According to their marriage record, Alma was the daughter of George Deshatta and Florance Sempa.
Charles Frederick Thomas was born on May 1, 1888 and later married Edith Mae Jones, the daughter of Fred and Jane Jones, on July 27, 1921 in Detroit. They resided in Windsor where Charles worked for the City of Windsor for over 40 years before retiring. Their children included Fred, Helen, Freida, Dorothy, Edith, Hazel and George.
Of their children, Fred is the most well-known. Born in Windsor on December 26, 1923, Fred Thomas became known as “one of Canada’s finest ever basketball players,” and was able to deliver the perfect hook shot with either hand. Fred attended Patterson Collegiate, playing a big role in the school winning the All-Ontario Basketball championship during his senior year. Following graduation, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force as a pilot in 1943, earning his wings and serving until 1945. It was then that he enrolled at Assumption College. He first played for Assumption College and is responsible for leading them to the Canadian Senior Men’s Finals in 1949. In fact, during the 1948-49 season, he set a record by scoring 639 points in a single season. Thomas also scored 2,059 points throughout his four-year basketball career at Assumption and remains one of the only player to score 2,000 points for Assumption or the University of Windsor. On February 23, 1945, Fred led Assumption to a victory over the Harlem Globetrotters with a score of 49-45, which must have impressed the Globetrotter organization because they invited him to join their organization.
Following his time with Assumption, Thomas played professional basketball with the Harlem Globetrotters for two seasons and, later, played for the Toronto Tri-Bells. His biggest disappointment was not being chosen for Canada’s Olympic basketball team in 1952 but time and time again Thomas proved himself to be a multi-talented athlete, expanding into baseball and football. Thomas became the first Black player to compete in the professional Eastern League (baseball). Not only did he make his debut on July 4, 1948 for the Wilkes-Barre Barons, which was a minor-league affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, he also played for the Kitchener Panthers, where he was the League Batting Champion with an average of .383. If that was not enough, Thomas also had a brief career as a football player with the Toronto Argonauts in 1949, but a knee injury ended his football career.
Among Fred’s numerous acknowledgements, Thomas was also inducted into the Windsor/Essex County Sports Hall of Fame in 1981; the University of Windsor Alumni Sports Hall of Fame in 1986; the Afro-American Hall of Fame in 1994, and the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995. Following his sports career, Fred transferred his athletic skills to teaching where he became a physical education teacher in Toronto, where he taught for over 20 years. Fred Thomas passed away on May 20, 1981.
Charles Frederick’s sister Maude Elizabeth is next. She was born on August 4, 1892 and her birth record also reveals that her father George worked as a fireman for C.P. Railway.
What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps. See you next week where we will celebrate a second line of the Simpson family through James Simpson.