Wednesday, April 09, 2014

52 Ancestors: Great-Grandmother Myrtle Massey Had a Difficult Life and an Early Death

Sandercock Family 1916
The Sandercock Family in 1916

I don't remember my Great Grandmother as she died many years before my birth. She was born Myrtle Louisa Sandercock on October 29th 1895 in Middlesex County Ontario. She was the only girl in a family of seven children born to Samuel and Ann Sandercock.

At some point before her marriage to my Great Grandfather John Massey in 1913 the family had moved to St. Marys Ontario. I do not know how John and Myrtle met each other but John's father Thomas worked for the J.D. Moore company who just happened to own the building right next to the hotel that Myrtle worked in so that may have something to do with it.

St.Marys Ontario
Myrtle with a tray at the hotel in about 1910 - 1913
At her marriage Myrtle was just 18 years old but her life was not going to be easy over the next few years. Myrtle and John had their first child in May of 1914 and over the next 16 years she would have a total of 9 children. But 1914 would also bring the start of the Great War - a war that would see her two oldest brothers killed and her father sent home due to ill health.  Myrtle was particularly close to her brother James who was killed in 1918. I still have a letter James sent to his sister in 1918 that she kept until her death.

Of course there were the usual struggles for Myrtle and John as well. Money was in short supply as it was for many. John always worked but with 9 kids what he made did not go far. I remember my Grandfather telling me how when he was older and had his first job his mom would resort to taking coins from his stash that he kept in a cup in his room. He shared this room with his 8 brothers. He never said anything to her about it as he knew she needed it.

So the Great War of 1914 - 1918 saw the death of her two oldest brothers. The 1920s were a struggle for her, being pregnant and nursing young children most of the time. The 1930s brought the great depression and then to top it all off 1939 saw the start of another war. A war poor Myrtle had to see her own sons take part in. I am sure she could not help think about her own brothers who died in the first war as she watched her own sons go off to the second. 
St Marys 1942 Genealogy
John and Myrtle about 1942

Myrtle died at the young age of 49 in 1944. My grandmother told me that "Myrtle was doing the washing in the morning. She told her husband Jack that she was not feeling well and went to lie down and never woke up. It was a brain aneurysm"

Her Funeral card reads:

"Entered into rest suddenly at her late residence, Water St. South, St. Marys on Monday October 2, 1944, Myrtle L. Sandercock, beloved wife of John Massey in her 49th year. The funeral: Resting at the above address where funeral service will be held Thursday October 5 at 2p.m. Interment in St. Marys Cemetery"

St. Marys Journal-Argus, October 5, 1944, p.4 - Obituary - Mrs. John Massey

Stricken suddenly on Monday morning in the midst of her daily work, Mrs. John Massey, formerly Myrtle Sandercock, died in her 49th year at her home on Water St. South.  She had been in apparent good health and on Sunday had gone on a walk and on Monday she started her washing as usual.  Around 8:30 she was unable to continue and died about two hours later.
Born near Prospect Hill, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Sam Sandercock who reside in the West Ward, she had lived in Lucan before coming to St. Marys as a little girl.  Here she attended both Public School and Collegiate Institute, and 30 years ago married John Massey who is employed at Maxwell Ltd.  She was a member of St. James Anglican Church and had been among the first members of St. Marys Home and School Association.  She was a faithful worker for Red Cross objectives.Mrs. Massey was the devoted mother of nine children, four sons being in the Services: Charles, in the Army at Debert, N.S.; Pte. Bill  Massey in France; Pte. Cecil Massey in England; John with the R.C.A.F. at Jarvis; and Kenneth at home;  Mrs. C.J. Langford(Marjorie) and Mrs. G.E. McKinnon(Helen), both of St. Marys; and Dorothy and Evelyn at home.She also leaves four brothers: Jack, in the U.S. Army; Harry, overseas; Wilbert of St. Marys and Frank of Detroit; besides four grandchildren: Tommy and Jimmie(twins) of St. Marys and Billy and  Jimmie of Kingston.The funeral service is being conducted this afternoon at her late residence by Rev. M.H. Farr of St. Paulís Anglican Church, Stratford, with interment in St. Marys Cemetery.


Alison Mitchell-Reid said...

Good morning Brian,

I hope this message will reach you - I'm sorry for posting in a public blog, but I could not find a way to privately message you. My name is Alison and I've been asked by a CBC producer to help trace living ancestors of the families of WWI servicemen, and my research has led to you. Your great-great-uncle would be James Cecil Sandercock if I read this correctly; please see below for the details of why we're looking for you. Please feel free to pass this along to other descendants of Pte. Sandercock's family, and please contact me if you'd like more information or if you'd like to participate.

Looking forward to hearing from you,
Alison Mitchell-Reid
St. Thomas, ON

I'm working on a programme for the CBC radio programme "Ideas", based on the Stratford Festival Forum called "Letters From the Front", which is essentially a group of actors reading WW1 letters written by (mostly) soldiers from the Stratford/Perth area. I was hoping to find some descendants of the letter-writers still living in the region; perhaps they might go to the reading, which is on Sunday August 10 in Stratford, and perhaps they'd be willing to be interviewed briefly for CBC Radio afterwards. Even if they can't come to the event, we'd like to meet them at another time, anyway, and talk a bit about what they know about their ancestor from WW1, and what that legacy of sacrifice means to them and the family today. Any help with this is greatly appreciated. Regards, Philip Coulter (Producer, CBC Radio, "Ideas")

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Hi Alison,

I'm responding on behalf of Brian (I'm his wife).

You can reach him at my email addy

olivetreegenealogy AT

I could not see a contact email for you in your comment.


Anonymous said...

Hi,Myrtle looks like her Aunt Kate. Also like Symthe cousins