Thursday, 17 October 2019

Carscallen Authors and Books

This blog post will be of interest primarily to the descendants of Hulda May Culbert and her husband, Reverend Charles Rupert Carscallen.
Hulda May Culbert & Rev. Charles Rupert Carscallen. Photo courtesy of Wendy (Gowland) Boole.

In the previous post, I wrote about a road trip taken by Hulda and Charles' daughters, Kay Carscallen and Alice Carscallen. Accompanying Kay and Alice were two of their cousins: Eula (Carscallen) Lapp and her sister, Beth Carscallen.  

Eula C. Lapp, author, and niece of Hulda May (Culbert) Carscallen
Eula (Carscallen) Lapp was the author of several books, a few of which I'll mention in this post, along with a book by Eula's niece, Suzanne Carscallen.

China Was My University: the Life of Hulda May Carscallen by Eula C. Lapp is a biography of Hulda May (Culbert) Carscallen, the daughter of Richard Culbert and Jane Fairhall, and the granddaughter of John Culbert and Mary Ward.
Hulda May (Culbert) Carscallen (1881-1972). Photo courtesy of Betty (Carscallen) Marmura.

The book covers Hulda May's early life growing up on Poplar Farm near Lucan, Ontario; becoming a school teacher at age 16; her marriage to Reverend Charles Rupert Carscallen; the many years they spent as educational missionaries in China where they raised their four children; Charles' appointment as Principal of Ontario Ladies College in Whitby, Ontario; her active social and cultural life in Whitby and her involvement with the College; and her busy retirement years. Although the book, published in 1980 by Agincourt Press is no longer in print, it might be available through used book outlets or through Interlibrary loan. 

Another of Eula C. Lapp's books is Seven Generations of Carscallens: a history of one branch of the Carscallen family: the descendants of Edward Carscallen U.E.L., his sons, Luke and George, U.E.L., his grandson, Isaac, and great grandson, Isaac Newton, as well as descendants of George's daughter, Catherine Hill Wilde through her daughter, Ann Jane Carscallen.  

This small book is essential for Carscallen family historians. Published in 1956, it's no longer in print but a free, online edition is available through the HathiTrust Digital Library.

Eula (Carscallen) Lapp and her sister, Beth Carsallen had a brother, Alan Newton Carscallen (1907-1995). 
Left to right: Siblings Beth (Carscallen) Fowler, Alan Carscallen, and Eula (Carscallen) Lapp, 1940. Photo via the Red Deer Archives.
During the Second World War, Alan Carscallen was a Squadron Leader with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in Tunisia. When the RCAF headquarters moved to Rome, Alan Carscallen met his future bride there, Helen Shirkoff (1923-2005). 

Helen (Shirkoff) Carscallen was from a family of displaced Russian aristocrats. Her mother's sister, Countess Olga (Zweguintzoff) Hendrikoff aka "Lala" (1892-1987) was born in Voronezh, Russia. Olga also lived in Constantinople, Rome, Paris, and Philadelphia. She was an eyewitness to the Russian Revolution, and to the occupation and liberation of Paris during the Second World War. Olga spent the last 20 years of her life in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Suzanne Carscallen, the daughter of Alan Carscallen and Helen Shirkoff found Olga's diaries hidden in a trunk in Olga's Calgary home. Included was a Russian longhand manuscript detailing her escape from Russia, as well as a typed manuscript in French recalling life in France during WWII. Suzanne compiled and edited the remembrances of her great-aunt, Countess Olga Hendrikoff into a book, A Countess in Limbo: Diaries in War and Revolution. The book was published in 2012 by SF Classic, and again in 2016 by Archway Publishing.

The book relates how Countess Olga lost her brother in the Russian Gulag, her sister-in-law was murdered with the Russian Imperial family, and Olga herself was robbed at gunpoint and accused of being a spy by the Nazis. You can read more about Olga and the book on Suzanne's website, A Countess in Limbo.

Returning now to the Carscallen family...

The Carscallens are descended from United Empire Loyalists. The United Empire Loyalists were generally those who had been settled in the thirteen colonies at the outbreak of the American Revolution, who remained loyal to and took up the Royal Standard, and who settled in what is now Canada at the end of the war. For more on the history of this group, we turn again to Eula C. Lapp who wrote, To Their Heirs Forever: United Empire Loyalists, Camden Valley, New York to Upper Canada.  

This story focuses on the families (including the Carscallens) who were forced to seek a new life in Canada after the American Revolutionary War. First published in 1970, the book's latest edition was printed in 2000 by Global Heritage Press.

With the cold weather upon us, it's the perfect time to settle in with one of these books.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Carscallen Cousins' Road Trip

On the 26th of May 1939, Kathleen “Kay” Carscallen and her sister, Alice Carscallen (great-granddaughters of John Culbert & Mary Ward) set out on a road trip with their cousins: sisters, Beth Carscallen and Eula (Carscallen) Lapp.

Their point of departure? Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Their destination? The province of Alberta via the USA. Total distance covered? 6,000 miles (9,656 km.)

Left to right: Cousins Eula Lapp (born 29 July 1905) and Kay Carscallen (born 21 July 1908). Photo courtesy of Kay’s daughter, Wendy (Gowland) Boole.
Alice Carscallen (Kay’s sister, born 15 April 1913.) No photo available of Beth Carscallen from this era.
I don't have any photos from their big adventure but I have a copy of Eula's "Trip Log." I've tried in this post to give you a general idea of their journey, based on Eula's travel journal.
The cousins set out from Toronto, Ontario on a 6,000 mile journey.

Eula’s sister, Beth Carscallen was the owner of a 1934 Ford, christened “Jane.” Jane lacked a trunk but they loaded her down with their luggage, a picnic hamper, a pile of road maps, and a First Aid kit. Oh, and a pile of library books (more about those, later.)

They pinned two paper hat bags to the back of the front seats, and a suction coat hanger on the window, which Eula said, “refused to suck after the first day.”

I don’t have a photo of “Jane,” their 1934 Ford so this image from Pinterest will have to do. The 1934 Ford was the getaway car of choice for American bank robbers such as Bonnie & Clyde.

Kay and Beth did all the driving, switching every hundred miles.

The customs officer at the border was taken by surprise when the women declared their occupations: a social worker (Kay), a librarian (Alice), and a psychologist (Beth.) He looked relieved when Eula responded, “Oh, I’m just married.” Unaccustomed to seeing a car full of professional women, Eula’s answer brought a sense of normalcy to the befuddled clerk. Eula said, “I was a bit sorry I had missed the opportunity to say something like “religious educationist” or “minister’s assistant”. But obviously the poor man had had all he could stand of capable women for one carload!”

As they drove through Michigan, the Carscallen cousins saw several CCC camps. These work camps were organized by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC); a work relief programme that gave millions of young men employment on environmental projects during the Great Depression.

Members of the CCC planting trees in Lolo National Forest, Montana, 1938. Source: U.S. Forest Service.
The women were interested in learning more about the CCC project so when they saw some of the men hitchhiking, they decided to pick one up. They didn’t learn much about the camps as they were lucky to get replies of one syllable from the young man. Eula exclaimed, “Perhaps we frightened him!” When the women told their family about this little adventure, they received a stiff lecture. They were told it was “never safe to pick up an American.” Later, they read about a man who was killed by a hitch-hiker he picked up in Michigan.

They were amused by the many humorous Burma Shave signs along the highway from Michigan all the way to Montana. Burma Shave (an American shaving cream company) started this roadside advertising campaign in 1927 and it ran until 1963.
Typically, several consecutive small signs would be posted along the edge of highways, spaced for sequential reading by passing motorists. The last sign was almost always the name of the product. Because they were spaced apart, the signs would hold the driver’s attention much longer than a conventional billboard.
An example of Burma Shave signs seen along their route, as noted by Eula in her travel journal. These signs would have been spaced out along the highway, not vertically displayed as in this image. No lady likes to snuggle or dine accompanied by a porcupine.

Another Burma Shave sign they noted said: “Careless bridegroom, dainty bride, scratchy whiskers, homicide!”

In Minnesota, they saw a sign pointing to “Clark Gable’s Resort.” This was just months before the release of the blockbuster hit, “Gone with the Wind” in which Clark Gable starred as Rhett Butler. Clark Gable was considered a big movie star even before that film. Naturally, this sign aroused the women’s interest.

Clark Gable

Disappointingly, Eula says that “Clark Gable’s Resort” “was nothing more exciting than people by the name of Clark with a house with gables.”

To give you an idea of how things have changed since 1939, Eula remarks that Fargo, North Dakota had a population of 28,000. Today, it boasts over 122,000 people.

On the other hand, they mention spending a night in Shelby, Montana which Eula described as “a booming town, about 2000 population, destined no doubt to be a sizable city some day.” However, today Shelby’s population is estimated at just over 3,000.

Eula complained that the men of Shelby looked like smooth, well-fed oil magnates from California or like actor Victor McLaglen...

Victor McLaglen
It was in Shelby that the man who rented them a cabin said, “You never have to worry about Canadians stealing anything nor leaving the place untidy. Canadians are usually dependable.”

Back across the border in Canada, they ate lunch by the river on the outskirts of Lethbridge, Alberta in a pretty spot among willows. However, it turned out to be a cow pasture, and three times during lunch they chased away cows from their “dining room.”

They finally arrived in Sylvan Lake, west of Red Deer, Alberta. Here, they visited Eula and Beth’s parents, Mary and Stanley Carscallen (former Mayor of Red Deer.)

Sylvan Lake as it looked in 1937.

Not content to sit still, they also travelled extensively around Alberta.

Eula wrote, “The Waterton Lake District is in the extreme southwest corner of Alberta, but none of us had seen it before. It proved a highlight of the whole trip. I think I should like to spend my old age in this corner of Alberta – provided I got there before I was too old to ride a horse!”


Eula said, “Every story has its climax; and the climax of this one came as we left Glasgow, Montana.” 

 This incident occurred on 20 June 1939. Kay was at the wheel of the car.

Eula reports: We had a collision with a county truck, and spent a day and a half in Glasgow waiting for repairs to Jane [the car], and trying to arrange to get damages. Like a miracle none of us was hurt. It all happened like lightning. And after it was over, we recalled that the only remark made by anyone was a quiet, "He's going to turn, Kay" by me. (Kay and I were in front.) Involuntarily we ducked our heads. Then, crash! bang! -- and Jane looked like nothing so much as a folded accordion.

The truck-driver [Dave Cuniff] remarked as we were getting out to view the wreck, "You can't get anything on me -- I work for the county!"

He must have had a guilty conscience. He also told the patrolman when he and Beth had returned with him to the “scene of the accident” that we were "just a bunch of women who lost their heads." But the patrolman was completely on our side (in private). The only thing he couldn't do was help us! The truck-driver took us back to the garage. He was obviously very upset and contradicted himself several times telling his story. We didn't want him to think we had any desire that he should lose his job; so when we saw him again at the garage at six that evening, Kay spoke to him quite pleasantly. He looked about to murder her. She said it was the same look she had seen in the eyes of mental patients; and she didn't stay long!"

Eula said, “I have no recollection of seeing any women in Glasgow, except the wife of the owner of the cabin.”

The passage about the incident goes on much longer in Eula’s “Trip’s Log.” The women had to consult with everyone in town who could possibly be of assistance such as the highway patrolman, the A.A.A. (American Automobile Association) secretary, the county attorney, the sheriff, and a lawyer. Everyone they saw “passed the buck.” Of course, they also had to get the car repaired.

Their so-called lawyer was one “Mr. R.,” who asked the women for a detailed statement of the accident. Mr. R. said that their statement wasn’t legal enough in its phraseology “so he rewrote it rather laboriously on his typewriter, adding many whereases and heretofores and translating all the respectable English into comfortable, ungrammatical Montanian.” Beth whispered to Eula, “I don’t know whether I want to put my name to all this bad grammar.” Nonetheless, she signed it. (The county attorney who was to receive the statement was the only man Beth had seen who appeared to have gone past public school.)

Mr. R. was impressed by the word “psychologist” after Beth’s name. He remarked that people in Canada “sure were well-educated.” He asked Beth how many years it had taken to get to be a “psychologist or whatever you call it?” He asked, Is it true that all lawyers in Canada have to go to college? Obviously, Mr. R. had received his education through the school of experience.

On the evening they left Glasgow, they got a flat tire. The jack wouldn’t work because the handle was too short. Being the resourceful women that they were, they came up with a solution. They’d brought along many books from the Toronto Public Library, thinking they would have time to read. (Alice was a librarian at TPL.) So they propped up the jack on a stack of library books. However, the jack still wouldn’t work. Fortunately, a couple of people stopped and lent them a jack. One of them offered the ladies his bottle of whiskey to drown their troubles!

Back in Canada, they stopped in Lucan, Ontario to visit Kay and Alice’s grandmother, Jane Eleanor (Fairhall) Culbert, the widow of Richard Culbert.

Jane Eleanor (Fairhall) Culbert (1858-1949). Photo courtesy of Paul Hodgson.

Eula Lapp recounts her final impressions of the trip:

The final impressions I have of the trip are: the length of Bloor Street [Toronto] in Sunday afternoon traffic: and people staring and laughing at us. Jane [the car] had not been washed since we left Toronto four weeks before! She was covered with Montana dust and Alberta gumbo and an accumulation of dust from other states. She looked more like a mud-turtle than a respectable, if tired, five-year-old Ford just home from a 6000-mile jaunt.

Kathleen Ethel “Kay” Carscallen and Alice Patricia Carscallen’s Family Tree:
John Culbert & Mary Ward (great-grandparents)
Richard Culbert & Jane Eleanor Fairhall (grandparents)
Hulda May Culbert & Charles Rupert Carscallen (parents)

To read more about Kay Carscallen, click here.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Updates to Maria Matilda Dagg & Johnston Smith post

Since publishing a post on September 29th about Maria Matilda Dagg and her husband, Johnston Smith, I've received more information about this family, and I've made updates. Click here to see the updated post (updates are in red.)

The updates include new details about their children, and also include this wedding photo of Maria and Johnston ...

Thanks to Melissa (Anderson) McGill for sharing this photo with us, and providing me with additional information from her family history notes.

If anyone else has information about the Maria Matilda Dagg-Johnston Smith family, please contact me at this email address:

Friday, 4 October 2019

Happy Birthday, Robn (Gras) Diekow!

Happy 70th birthday to Robn (Gras) Diekow!

Robn (Gras) Diekow sailing in the marina in Finike, Turkey.

Robn Gras was born 4 October 1949 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA to Ranulf Worcester "Ranny" Gras and Annette Elizabeth Peters.

October 26, 1969, when she was 20 years old, Robn, her parents, and two of her brothers left on a sailing trip around the world. 

In French Polynesia, Robn met a German single-hand sailor named Gerhard Diekow, whom she eventually married. They lived in Germany for a year, and then in Sequim, Washington, west of Seattle, where they raised their daughter, Antares.

Robn and Gerhard bought a sailboat and lived on her for several years, leaving on their own round-the-world trip in 2001. Unfortunately, Gerhard passed away in South Africa in 2010. One of Robn's brothers helped her sail her boat to the Caribbean where she continued her adventures.
Robn's sailboat Heidi in Pago Pago

Robn aboard Heidi
After a few years, another world cruising sailor, Dave Heath, also widowed, was sent one of her journal entries and one thing led to another. They are now a couple, dividing their time between their 2 boats and an RV.  
Dave Heath & Robn Diekow

You can follow Robn and Dave's adventures on their blog: 

Robn Gras' Family Tree:


John Culbert & Mary Ward (great-great-grandparents)

Richard Culbert & Jane Eleanor Fairhall (great-grandparents)

Ethel Gertrude Culbert & Norman Scott Brien Gras (grandparents)

Ranulf Worcester "Ranny" Gras & Annette Elizabeth Peters (parents)

Descendants (Children):

Antares Diekow, daughter.