Climbing My Family Tree, Part Three

Immigrant Hazel Adelia Weldon de Meurers

My closest immigrant ancestor is my grandmother on my father’s side of the family, Hazel Adelia Weldon de Meurers. Hazel was born in Dorchester, (Westmorland County), New Brunswick, Canada on July 8, 1912. She was the oldest of four children.

Most of my grandmother’s ancestors can be traced back to England, but she also had a two times great-grandmother who was born in Scotland, and a five times great-grandmother who was a Wampanoag Indian.

Grandma Hazel’s ancestry is filled with amazing stories. My sister, Ann Dale deMeurers Dawson, was named for our five times great-grandmother, Ann Dale, who was born in Yorkshire, England in 1736. Ann Dale married John Weldon in 1762. They had four children (Andrew, Elizabeth, John, and Thomas) between 1762 and 1771. Their son John died in early 1772 at the age of five. The cause of his death is unknown.

While Ann was pregnant with her fifth child, the couple decided the family would immigrate to Nova Scotia, Canada. The Treaty of Paris had been signed in 1763, ending the French and Indian War, giving control of Canada to the British, and thus opening greater opportunities for English immigration.

John Weldon sailed for Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1772, intending to establish a homestead in preparation for his family to join him later. Not long after he left, Ann Dale gave birth to a daughter, Ann Weldon.

In 1774, Ann Dale boarded the ship, Albion, with her four surviving children, arriving in Fort Cumberland, New Brunswick, Canada, on March 14, only to discover her husband had never arrived.

Unbeknownst to Ann, John Weldon’s ship had wrecked off the coast of Portugal. By the time he made it back to England, his wife and children had already sailed for the New World. John followed them to Canada, and the family was finally reunited in the fall of 1774.

The couple had one more son, also named John. This John is frequently confused with the older brother, John, who was born and died in England. The older John was not listed on the immigrant ship manifest, and there exists a record of his death in the Church of England records in London, for January 5, 1772. The younger John lived a long and prosperous life in Canada.

Ann and John settled in New Brunswick, and there they established a long line of Weldons, almost all of whom labored as farmers and blacksmiths, although they were teachers and judges as well.

The Weldon family worked the land for some 138 years before my grandmother was born, and by then there were over 300 people claiming the surname Weldon in Canada, although it is quite possible some were descended from other than Ann Dale and John Weldon.

My family has, in our possession, a book on Weldon genealogy, published in 1953, boasting 126 pages of family lineage from John Weldon and Ann Dale. The book’s author, William S. Weldon (6th generation from John and Ann), traced the family line back to 1066, highlighting notable characters, including Hugh Weldon, sewer for King Henry VII, and Edward Weldon, master of the household of King Henry VIII.

Hazel, as mentioned, was born in 1912 and grew up in Dorchester, New Brunswick. I am not aware of any of her relatives who also had the name Hazel, but I do know one of her grandmother’s sisters shared her middle name, Adelia. Gemima Adelia Fillmore was 70 when Hazel was born. They lived in the same county in New Brunswick, and likely spent time together.

We know Hazel crossed the international border from New Brunswick, Canada, to Vanceboro, Maine, USA, on September 17, 1930, when she was 18 years old. Her father, Edgar Wilson Weldon, was listed as her departure contact. Her cousin, Reverend W. Ted Taylor, was listed as her arrival contact. Her oldest son, Weldon, recalls her talking about leaving for the States. She boarded the train at Dorchester station and looked up at the farm, her birthplace, as the train chugged southward.

Hazel took the train to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to attend school at Eastern Baptist College and Seminary, where she was enrolled in a Christian education program. It is there she met my grandfather, Reverend Paul de Meurers.

Hazel married Paul on May 15, 1935 in Keswick Grove, New Jersey. She was 22. He was a few days shy of 27.

Paul was ordained into Baptist ministry upon graduation from Eastern Baptist College and Seminary that same month. He was immediately called to pastor Westfield Baptist Church in Tioga, Pennsylvania, and Clymer Baptist Church in Sabinsville, Pennsylvania. The towns are 25 miles apart. Even before he was ordained, Paul had begun preaching at Westfield Baptist since January of that same year.

Although unpaid and unofficial, Hazel’s role of pastor’s wife was likely equally important to Paul’s official role as preacher. Hazel was a member of the Eastern Star and Paul was a Mason.

In 1938 the couple moved 100 plus miles southwest to Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania, where Paul served as pastor of the First Baptist Church in that community. Paul frequently found his name printed in local newspapers, recognizing him as officiating at various marriages and funerals.

The pair moved many times as Paul served numerous Baptist churches in Pennsylvania, Iowa, New Jersey, and New York.

The couple had four sons between 1939 and 1947.

  1. Weldon Paul deMeurers (my father)
  2. John Earle deMeurers
  3. Donald Armstrong deMeurers
  4. Gordon Arthur deMeurers

The 1940 US Census shows Hazel was not employed (she then “kept house” and tended to her one year old son), yet the record indicates she previously had been a clerk with the Franklin Stores. Her status in the US was resident alien.

Her son, Weldon, does not recall her talking about being a store clerk, but he does remember her sharing she was a waitress in a “fancy” restaurant. If there were fewer than nine patrons at any particular table, she was required to memorize their orders for food and drink without the assistance of paper and pencil.

In 1945 Paul was pastor at McKeesport, Pennsylvania. From there they moved to Muscatine, Iowa; Millville, New Jersey; Berlin, New York; and in 1955 Paul became pastor at the First Baptist Church in Baldwinsville, also in New York.

After Baldwinsville, Paul pastored the North Manlius United Church in Kirkville, New York and from there he led a church in Montour Falls, New York.

Hazel earned her bachelor’s degree from North Adams State Teacher’s College in June, 1956. She taught students in grades 1-8 in a one room school house, “up the mountain,” west of Berlin, New York.

In spite of her service as a public school teacher, and her unpaid role of pastor’s wife,  the biggest point of pride in her life was being a wife, a mother, and a grandmother.

After retiring from the ministry, Paul and Hazel bought a house on Lamoka Lake in Tyrone, New York.

It would appear retirement did not serve Paul well. After leaving the Baptist ministry, Paul followed Hazel into the profession of public education. In 1972 he taught Language Arts to 7th and 8th graders in Watkins Glen, New York.

Also during “retirement” Paul filled in as an interim pastor at the United Methodist Church in Tyrone, New York. His intention had been to cover for a few weeks and he  ended up staying for several years before “re-retiring.”

Hazel died in 1980 and is buried in Bradford, New York. Paul was buried beside her in when he passed in 1991.

As Hazel’s oldest grandchild, I have many fond memories spending time with Grandma Hazel and Grandpa Paul. In addition to our regular family visits, I remember flying from Rhode Island to upstate New York to spend time with my grandparents. I also remember a time when Hazel visited us in Rhode Island, and then drove me back home to New York to visit with her. As a teenager, I had the opportunity to travel with my parents and grandparents to the Holy Land, a particular point of pride, with two pastors in the family (my father also being an ordained minister).

Hazel had a reputation of never speaking an unkind word about another person, no matter what. When playing Uno, she would never give a Draw Four card to the same person twice in a row. She loved square dancing with my grandfather and she cooked wonderful meals for her family. Her nickname was “Sweetie Pie,” and she certainly lived up to that name.

Like so many immigrants before and after her, Grandma Hazel immigrated to the United States in search of a better education. While in the US she met the love of her life and made the States her adopted home.

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My Family Tree:

1. John Weldon & Ann Dale Weldon

»

2. Andrew Dale Weldon & Elizabeth Killam

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3. Thomas Weldon & Judith Weldon Smith

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4. Gideon Smith Weldon & Margaret E. Fillmore

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5. Edgar Wilson Weldon & Eunice Irene Burgess Weldon

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6. Hazel Adelia Weldon de Meurers & Paul de Meurers

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7. Weldon deMeurers

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8. Me (Alan deMeurers)

Running count of my direct immigrants from Europe to North America = 9

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Reference Links:

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=100667499&ref=acom

http://interactive.ancestry.com/1075/m2071_13-6065/3785328?/edit/record

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