Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Jane Eleanor (Fairhall) Culbert (1858-1949)

"A good mother, kind and generous to a fault." Her daughter, Ethel (Culbert) Gras described Jane (Fairhall) Culbert this way, and all who knew Jane agreed.

Many readers of the Culbert Family History blog are descended from Jane Fairhall and her husband, Richard Culbert...

Jane Fairhall and Richard Culbert

Jane Eleanor Fairhall (nicknamed "Jennie") was born in a log house on 2 July 1858, north of the Culbert homestead and south of Exeter, Ontario. Her parents, Frederick John Fairhall and Elizabeth JANE Woodman emigrated from England in 1852 to Stephen Township which has since been incorporated into the Municipality of South Huron.

Jane Eleanor Fairhall around May, 1872; two months before her 14th birthday. Photo courtesy of Wendy (Gowland) Boole from the collection of Hulda May (Culbert) Carscallen.

Considering she was such a good mother, Jane had very little mothering, herself. When Jane was a toddler, her mother was chased by a bull. Trying to escape over a fence, her mother fell and was injured. She suffered a hemorrhage that brought on the miscarriage of her fifth child, and died of her injury.

Jane's father soon remarried and in 1862, the Fairhall family moved to Biddulph Township, about a half mile north of the Culbert homestead. 

Her childhood hadn't been easy. Jane was somewhat tolerated by her father's strict new wife, and Jane was required to care for the many children born to her step-mother. Jane left home early to apprentice to a tailor. This training came in handy later when she made her children's clothing and suits for her husband by hand.

Jane Fairhall wed Richard Culbert on 16 December 1879. They moved in with Richard's parents, John Culbert and Mary Ward at Lot 19, Concession 2, Biddulph Township in Middlesex County, Ontario.

Jane (Fairhall) Culbert and Richard Culbert in 1886. Photo by George A. Ellis of Lucan, Ontario.

A couple of years later, Jane's father, Frederick Fairhall and his large, new family moved west. Frederick made a name for himself there as a pioneer of Killarney, Manitoba.

Jane's father, Frederick John Fairhall. Photo from the J.A.V. David Museum in Killarney, Manitoba.

Below is a photo of the six children of Jane and Richard who lived to adulthood. All were born in a log house at Lot 19, Concession 2 (The Coursey Line) in Biddulph Township, near Lucan, Ontario...

The Richard Culbert - Jane Fairhall family, 1927. Back row, left to right: Hulda May (Culbert) Carscallen, Myron Manford Culbert, Lela (Culbert) Beadle, George Arthur Culbert, and Mary Elsie (Culbert) Hodgson. Front row, left to right: Jane Eleanor (Fairhall) Culbert, Richard Culbert, and Ethel Gertrude (Culbert) Gras. Photo by Samuel Askin of Stratford, Ontario.

There was a seventh child, Richard Edwin Culbert who was born in October, 1896 following all the other children. He died of lung congestion a month later. In her book, "Stories from Life," Ethel (Culbert) Gras says of Jane on page 93, "Six children of her own who lived, three that died." That means Jane had a total of nine children but I haven't found any documentation for the other two children. In a Culbert family history book, Grant Taylor says there were three babies buried in the orchard on the Culbert property at Lot 19, Concession 2, Biddulph Township.[1] The names of these babies aren't mentioned so I don't know if they're the children of Richard Culbert and Jane Fairhall or the children of John Culbert and Mary Ward. For now, this remains a mystery.

Jane had no formal education beyond the lower grades. She grew up in a time and place with few schools or teachers for the early settlers. At that time, education wasn't considered important for girls. Despite all this, she was self-educated, interested in world affairs, and was considered a woman of wisdom. She helped to educate her children by reading aloud from magazines, especially National Geographic...

National Geographic magazine, 1888.

Jane's daughters said she was a wise counsellor to them. Her daughter, Hulda May (Culbert) Carscallen said Jane was a fine influence on her and had a good deal to do with developing her curiosity and stimulating her eagerness to learn.

Jane (Fairhall) Culbert (seated) with three of her four daughters. Left to right: Hulda May (Culbert) Carscallen, Lela (Culbert) Beadle, and Mary Elsie (Culbert) Hodgson. Photo courtesy of Wendy (Gowland) Boole from the collection of Hulda May (Culbert) Carscallen.

Jane was loved not only by her own children and grandchildren but also by those who married into the family. Her grandson Ken's wife, Helen (Needham) Culbert said, "Jane went out of her way to welcome all the Culbert boys' girlfriends." 

So beloved was Jane that I was named after her and my mother said that if ever she were to become a novelist, she would use the nom de plume, Jane Fairhall.

Jane Eleanor (Fairhall) Culbert, September, 1945.

What was a typical day for Jane (Fairhall) Culbert? Her daughter, Ethel answers that question. 

"She had much work to do. Milking cows at break of dawn; churning cream for butter fat; baking bread and pies and cakes; and getting meals ready three times a day for a family large and hungry. She washed, ironed, scrubbed and cleaned, kept the house all spic and span; she darned and mended, sewed and patches; she canned and pickled; smoked the hams; dried fallen fruit from apple trees; she boiled to syrup maple sap; and made good soap from fat and lye. She molded candles from melted tallow, which served the dim an only light until the kerosene came in, affording better light. In all her years she never knew a modern toilet in her house, nor water running from a tap, until the year she died. She never owned a vacuum cleaner or knew the joy of a Frigidaire [refrigerator.] Only late in life did she have an electric washer."[2]
Ethel goes on to mention many more tasks but you can see that Jane was never idle.

Jane (Fairhall) Culbert's 90th birthday

In her later years, Jane's daughter, Mary Elsie (Culbert) Hodgson moved in to take care of her in the little house on Alice Street, Lucan. Jane and Richard had retired to Lucan many years earlier, leaving the farm to their son, Myron Culbert. Towards the end of Jane's life, her hearing and eyesight failed and she was afflicted with arthritis but still she continued to knit. Her daughter, Ethel said that Jane "kept right on and would not much complain as many another might have done." Jane's daughter, Mary cared for Jane until the end, and another daughter, Lela (Culbert) Beadle, a Registered Nurse made frequent visits. 

Of Jane's final days, Ethel says, "She suffered much and death was hard; so great was her resistance; the doctor said he had never met with such resistance. But she knew full well her life was o'er; was ready quite and anxious then to go. Her prayer was answered only after months of suffering. In February she had taken ill and died on June eleventh."

Jane died 11 June 1949, three weeks before her 91st birthday. She is buried alongside her husband, Richard Culbert in Nursery Cemetery, north of Lucan, Ontario.
Jane Fairhall and Richard Culbert's headstone. Nursery Cemetery 35051 Richmond Street (Highway 4) Municipality of North Middlesex, north of Lucan, Ontario.
Photo by Mary Jane Culbert.

Her daughter, Ethel said, "Many were her friends and abundant were the lovely flowers heaped upon her bier. She lies now in the quiet Nursery grave beside her husband placed there seventeen years before her. Her cup of life was full -- spent more in doing things for others than in self-pursuit. She was full of human kindness, love and charity. She has dearly earned her rest and such reward as comes to those who fully use their talents. In the fine heritage she has left us her soul lives on immortal."

(Poem) To her loving memory
by her daughter Ethel
I can see her still in her rocking chair,
her dear face furrowed by time and care,
knitting for someone a woolen pair.
But now her hands are folded and still;
clasp them again we never will,
but her loving, dear, sweet memory
ever warm in our hearts will be.

Jane Eleanor (Fairhall) Culbert. Photo courtesy of Paul Hodgson.
[1] "A History of the John Culbert-Mary Ward Family and Their Descendants 1828-1995, Volume 1, Branches 5-6-7-8-9" by Grant W. Taylor, page 64.
[2] Stories from Life by Ethel Culbert Gras, page 93.

Jane (Fairhall) Culbert's Family Tree:

Frederick Fairhall & Elizabeth JANE Woodman (parents)

Descendants (children):
Hulda May (Culbert) Carscallen
George Arthur Culbert
Myron Manford Culbert
Ethel Gertrude (Culbert) Gras
Mary Elsie (Culbert) Hodgson
Susan LELA (Culbert) Beadle
Richard Edwin Culbert (infant death)

No comments:

Post a Comment