Saturday, 24 June 2017

A Tale of Two Countries ...... by Norma Davis Cook ... .... part three

By  the time Bert had turned eighteen and his contract was fulfilled, he decided to stay at the farm and work for wages. The Clendennings had no children of their own and were quite satisfied with Bert, so they decided to request a girl from the Middlemore Home.  Mrs. Clendenning was very specific in stating her wishes:  “Will you please send me a nice smart little girl, age 11 or 12 years old, good looking with dark hair.  I will adopt her and give her a good home.”  In May of 1920, twelve-year-old Mary Priscilla Pitt joined the Clendenning household.

Albert (Bert) Davis
Mary had been born to Charles and Elizabeth Pitt of Dudley, England, on August 4, 1907.  Dudley was located in an area known as the “Black Country”, due to the coal mining and iron industry that employed many of the men.

Charles Pitt had been a deaf-mute from the time he was a child, but was able to work as a laborer in the boiler yard of the iron works.

He and Elizabeth had a second daughter, Sarah Elizabeth, who only lived a few months.  Later, a third little girl was born, named Violet May.

In 1918, Elizabeth Pitt died, leaving Charles unable to care for their two daughters by himself.  He made the trip to Birmingham to place his little girls at Middlemore.

The admission record revealed their destitute condition and also hinted at their ethnic heritage by describing Charles as “mulatto”.  After living at the Home for two years, Mary was sent to Canada without her little sister.

Helping with housework was something Mary probably would have been accustomed to, but her poor eyesight prevented her from performing her chores satisfactorily.  At the annual inspection in 1924, it was noted that Mary was not receiving any wages and the recommendation was made to transfer her to the home of a doctor’s family in Nova Scotia, where she stayed several months until reaching her eighteenth birthday.

Jane (Davis) Ayres
Upon her return to Carleton County, she and Bert were married on September 16, 1925.  They lived in Waterville, Carleton County, NB for all their married life and had five children, with four sons still living.
Mary’s sister, Violet, had stayed at Middlemore until she was fourteen, and then was discharged to return to her hometown of Dudley, where she lived with her mother’s younger brother, Harry Farley.  It is uncertain whether her father, Charles, was still living by then. Violet had lost contact with Mary over the years of separation, so she wrote to Middlemore Home for help in tracking down her sister.  In 1928, Violet journeyed to Canada, where she got reacquainted with her sister and went on to build a life for herself with a husband and children.

Jane (Davis) Ayres kept in touch with her sons over the years, sending special gifts at Christmastime.  Her husband, William, had served in the First World War and died shortly afterward.  Jane passed away in 1936.

© Norma Davis Cook, 2017

Location; Canada

Pictures; from the collection of Norma Davis Cook

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