Emma Augusta Willson

ID # 6892, (1843-1899)
FatherJohn Wesley Willson (1819-1889)
MotherSophia Jane Nelles (1822-1893)
BirthEmma Augusta Willson was born in 1843 at Saltfleet Township. 
MarriageShe married George Hespeler, son of Jacob Hespeler and Elise (Lissie) Diehl, on 24 February 1864 at Ontario, Saltfleet Twp., Wentworth County.
MS248 reel 17, Vol. 82, page 137,
Wentworth County Marriage Register

Extracted from a list of marriages solemnized by Rev. James L. Alexander of the U. C. of England and Ireland.

George Hespeler, 26, born Preston, residing Hespeler. Parents Jacob and Lissie.
E. Augusta, 21, born and residing Saltfleet. Parents John W. Willson and J. M. Sophia.
Witness H. E. Nelles of Grimsby
On Feby 24, 1864.

As is usually the case, the county marriage register entries do not show the exact location of the marriage. We do, however, have the following.

Refer to page 20, Vol. 6 of The Wentworth Papers, Craig Burtch, Early Ontario Newspaper Transcription Series, Global Heritage Press, 2012. This transcribes a marriage notice that appeared in the Thursday, February 25, 1864, edition of the Hamilton Evening Times.

This tells that on the 24th inst., George Hespeler of Hespeler, eldest son of Jacob Hespeler, married Emma Augusta Willson, the eldest daughter of John W. Willson of 'Ontario'. The wedding was held at the bride's father at Ontario and conducted by the Rev. J. L. Alexander, M.A., incumbent of Saltfleet and Binbrook and assisted by Rev. E. R. Stimson, incumbent of Berlin. This also describes Emma as the great granddaughter of the late Hon. John Willson. (See notes for Emma.)

A careful examination of the place name 'Ontario' in this situation has to do with the fact that the village of Winona in Saltfleet Township was originally named Ontario. After confederation, it was deemed in some circles inappropriate to have a village named Ontario in the Province of Ontario, in other words, Ontario, Ontario. See Ghost and Post Offices of Ontario, Floreen Carter, 1986, page 670. According to Library and Archives Canada, the name of the post office was changed to Winona on 1 April 1868. They also state that the name of the postmaster from 1 September, 1855, to 30 November, 1863, was John Willson.

DeathShe died on 24 July 1899 at Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois. 
BurialShe was buried at Forest Home Cemetery, Forest Park, Cook Co., Illinois. 
NoteFamilysearch has a database: Cook County, Illinois, Deaths Index, 1878-1922
(This is transcription only)

Emma Augusta Hespeler, born 1843 in Canada died 24 July, 1899, at Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. Burial in Forest Home Cemetery. Age 56. Housewife. Married. FHL film nbr 1033068

Page 5 of the July 28, 1899, edition of the Chicago Tribune, has the briefest death notice. This tells of the passing of Emma Augusta, wife of Colonel Hespeler, at 774 West Adams. It goes on to ask the Toronto papers to please copy.

Find-a-Grave has a photograph of Emma's gravestone in Forest Home Cemetery, Forest Park, Cook County, Illinois. She is evidently buried with daughter Jacobina (Jettie), who died in 1908.

A note as to Emma's family background.

Emma and George were married in 1864. On their marriage registration, her parents are shown as John W. and Sophia Willson. Emma and her parents have been sought in the 1851 and 1861 censuses. They appear in the 1851 census. .

McGill University's Digital County Maps from the 1870s era shows J. W. Willson on the broken front of lot 5 between the village of Winona and Lake Ontario. The mapping project identifies him as a grain merchant and tells that he settled in 1822.

The Ontario Land Registry Access website shows both lots 4 and 5 originally granted to Nathaniel Pettit. The land passed down to the Willson family and it appears that Emma's father was John Wesley Willson. The original land holder may have been a John A. Willson - this is not clear on all points, from the quality of the abstract index's reproduction - and does not appear to have come into the hands of the family until the 1840s. Again, this is not clear.

Abstract index pages were also microfilmed by Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and these are to be found at the Archives of Ontario under the GSU series of microfilms. They are usually quite clear with both halves of the pages appearing as one image making the information much easier to sort out.

Emma's marriage registration shows her place of birth as Saltfleet Township. This is probably correct. Certainly, the 1851 census entry shows her place of birth as Saltfleet.

The Willson property (or properties) was on Lake Ontario, just north of the village of Winona. George Hespeler may have begun life as a Lutheran, but census information shows that he was eventually an Anglican, as was Emma. An examination of a transcription of St. Andrews Anglican Church (yes, Anglican) in the Town of Grimsby, just west of Winona in Grimsby Township of Lincoln County, shows Willson burials, including that of Emma's great grandfather, the Hon. John Willson. This describes John as being born in New Jersey on August 5th, 1776. He is said to have settled in Canada in 1790 and was elected as a member of the Assembly of Upper Canada in 1808. John is buried next to his wife, Elizabeth Bowlby, 1783 - 1869.

None of which gets to any particular point so far as Emma is concerned, at least failing a more detailed research of her background, but of interest here is that George Hespeler's sister Lissie married a Ward Hamilton Bowlby. Ward died in 1917 in Kitchener where his death registration shows him to have been a lawyer. For the moment, the evidence is inconclusive, but it does appear that Emma Augusta Willson and Ward Hamilton Bowlby were at least cousins. 

Children of Emma Augusta Willson and George Hespeler

Last Edited27 Jul 2019