First Ever Families of Early New Westminster Symposium Great Success

Thanks to everyone who came out yesterday for the first ever Families of Early New Westminster Symposium.  We had over thirty registered participants and seven official speakers. Despite the intermittent difficulties posed by Powerpoint presentations, the energy was palpable as people poured over photos, swapped stories and shared clues to solve mysteries related to the history of New Westminster.

We’ll summarize the presentations future blog posts but wanted to extend special thanks at this time to Jim Wolf, Tim Watkins, Brent Stratichuk, Shelley Wilson-Roberts from the New Westminster Public Library, Barry Dykes of the New Westminster Archives and Ann ten Cate from the Royal British Columbia Museum and Archives in Victoria.

We’d love to keep in touch with everyone who attended so please be sure to send an email to if you’d like to be notified about upcoming events.


Families of Early New Westminster Symposium Update

Here is the latest Families of Early New Westminster Symposium update.  Our inaugural event is now less than two weeks away!  We’re happy to confirm that we have added Ann ten Cate, an Archivist and Program Producer from the Royal B.C. Museum, to our speakers list. Ann will speak about the genealogical sources available through our provincial archives and how to access them online. Her complete biography is below.

There are still tickets available through Eventbrite.  Be sure to sign up so that we can have snacks and lunch available for everyone. Just click here.  We look forward to meeting everyone on Saturday, November 1st.

Our other confirmed speakers include Jim Wolf, Tim Watkins, Brent Stratichuk and Maija Leivo. Details about the speakers and their subjects are available here.

The Families of Early New Westminster Symposium is sponsored by Ian Herring and his sister Jane Koberstein. Their goal is to foster discussion and research into the genealogical pursuits that absorbed and an inspired their parents, Phil and Marion Herring.

If you have any questions, send an email to

Ann ten Cate is an archivist and program producer with the Royal B.C. Museum.   She is an impassioned advocate for archives, and their significance for us all – whether as tools for family and community history or as a way to learn about our collective history.

Anne is a history graduate of the University of Toronto, and has worked in a number of different types of religious, municipal and provincial archives in Ontario and British Columbia. Most recently she has been a Reference Archivist with the B.C. Archives a program producer with the Royal B.C. Museum Learning Department, and is now working on the new Gold Rush exhibit coming to the RBCM in the spring of 2015.

After more than 20 years of reference and processing work in the B.C. Archives Ann still finds new and fascinating archival sources which genealogists overlook, or dismiss because they can’t see the connection to their own story. Ann is working on several new education programs at the B.C. Archives in Victoria which will help people find their way to the juiciest bits of the B.C. collection – but for those who can’t get to Victoria her talk will give you an overview of the best genealogy sources at the BC Archives, and how to access some of them online.

Confirmed Speakers for Families of Early New Westminster Symposium

Further to our announcement of the first annual Families of Early New Westminster: Herring Memorial Symposium, we are very happy to present the preliminary list of confirmed speakers. Our distinguished line up includes:

Jim Wolf

A long-time resident of New Westminster, BC, Jim Wolf is well known in the province’s heritage community as a heritage planner and a historian. He has been committed to preserving New Westminster’s heritage for the past 20 years: at the New Westminster Museum and Archives; as president of the Heritage Preservation Society and former member of the city’s Community Heritage Commission; and as a founding director of the New Westminster Heritage Foundation. Jim is currently the heritage planner for the City of Burnaby and an active heritage consultant. He lives with his wife and son in New Westminster’s Queen’s Park neighbourhood, where they are restoring the 1907 Herbert and Ellen Harrison house.

Jim will start off our session with an illustrated talk  on New Westminster as seen through the eyes of early photographers.  Old photographs have a magical quality and the early images of the Royal City will transport us back to another time and place.  They are also critical historical documents that provide us with local historical information and personalities not always accessible in other surviving records.  Jim will trace the beginnings of the city as documented by local photographers such as Frederick G. Claudet.  He will also demonstrate how photographs can contribute to historical biography by presenting a new collection of photographs shared by the family of B.C. pioneer Colonel J.T. Scott.

Brent Stratichuk

A mild-mannered comic book vendor by day, Brent Stratichuk champions the cause of local history in his spare time. This interest became magnified in 2004 when he and his wife, Nancy, moved from their hometown of Burnaby to the historic New Westminster neighbourhood known as Sapperton, site of the original camp for the Sappers & Miners of the Columbia Detachment of the Royal Engineers (not to mention the former home of the B.C. Penitentiary).

It was during this period of living on what amounts to Colonial B.C.’s “ground zero” that Brent first heard the sketchy details of a tragic murder/suicide which took place in the R.E. camp on October 28th, 1859. From that moment on, his general interest in local history suddenly found a specific purpose – to properly identify the family involved in this early tragedy and to discover what became of those left behind.  Though some questions involving this compelling story remain unanswered, Brent is firmly committed to continuing the search and is honoured that the descendants of this deeply-rooted New Westminster family have invited him to share the results of his research thus far.

Tim Watkins

Tim Watkins has Bachelor of Arts from the University of Victoria and has practiced law for twenty-five years, mainly in Maple Ridge.  Considered an expert on the British Columbia Detachment of the Royal Engineers, Tim speaks regularly on the ever day life of the men of the unit.  He draws on his experience as a long time member of the Royal Engineers Living History Group.  Tim’s historical personae, Sgt. James Lindsay, has attended in living history events at Fort Langley, Fort Rodd Hill, Barkerville, San Juan Island and Halifax.

Tim will speak about the role of the Royal Engineers in the foundation of New Westminster and the domestic life of the soldiers who lived there.

Maija Leivo

Maija has a Masters degree in History from Simon Fraser University and currently works writing and producing television documentaries for National Geographic, Discovery Channel, History Television and Oasis.  With a passion for social history she is on a quest to place personal and family stories into the context of the larger historical narrative, drawing from both genealogical sources and oral history.

Maija will speak on the factual underpinnings of the fictional works of New Westminster author Frances Elizabeth Herring as they relate to the Herring family history in British Columbia and England.

Ian Herring and Jane Koberstein

Ian and Jane are the great grandchildren of Arthur May and Frances Elizabeth Herring. They are sponsoring this event in memory of their parents Phil and Marion Herring, who were passionate in their pursuit of family connections, writing letters and even travelling to England and Corfu, Greece, but for whom New Westminster was central to the narrative.

We confirm additional speakers from the New Westminster City Archives and Royal British Columbia Archives in the next few weeks.

If you are interested in presenting your research on the early families of New West, send an email to

We welcome members of the public!  To attend Families of Early New Westminster Herring Memorial Symposium and hear these great speakers on November 1, please register via Eventbrite.

Sarah Sophia Jackson’s Grave Located

Ian and I were at Fraser Cemetery in New Westminster this week and used it as a chance to do some sleuthing.  Arthur May Herring’s half sister Sarah Sophia died in New West in 1920. We had the plot number but a search on Find a Grave revealed no headstone.  We really wanted the chance to have Sarah Sophia Jackosn’s Grave located.  On this trip the cemetery office was open and we were able to get some help.

After he consulted the records, Jim, a New West city employee very kindly accompanied me to where the grave should have been.  Using another name from the ledger page we were able to hone in on this stone:

Jackson Headstone, Fraser Cemetery, New Westminster, BC, Canada

Jackson Headstone, Fraser Cemetery, New Westminster, BC, Canada

I was really pleased to think that Sarah Sophia had a headstone after all.  That was until we cleaned off the plaque with some water..


So the gravestone only marked the passing of Adam Thomson Hay Jackson who was born in 1878 and died in 1870.  Looking at the whole grave marker you get the sense that they might have intended to use it as family stone, but no one installed the larger plaque.

But all was not lost! We still had the Ledger for the I.O.O.F. section of the Fraser Cemetery. We knew from this document that Adam Jackson had purchased six adjacent plots.  The plots listed in top left and bottom right hand corner have since been sold. According to Jim, the headstone sits between the two top plots.  The other two plots sit just below. So based on the ledger we were now looking at where Sarah Sophia had been buried.

 Jackson Family Cemetery Plots

Jackson Family Cemetery Plots, from the Ledger held by Fraser Cemetery office

There was one completely surprise discovery from the Ledger though.  The bottom left hand corner mentions Emily Jane Jackson.  This could only be Emily Jane Smith, the daughter of Sarah Sophia and her first husband, the Royal Engineers’ Henry William Smith.  In 1896, she died a few years before Adam who was buried here in 1899.  Her grave too, is unmarked.


George Hill Memorial Update

The most amazing thing about starting this Herring family research and the blog has been the wonderfully kind and generous people whom we have encountered. We’ve been surprised yet again this week. We just received an email from Hilary Tulloch, one of the authors of Bermuda Memorial Inscriptions and published by the Bermuda National Trust/National Museum of Bermuda in 2011 and available from their website.

As you’ll remember from our previous post Yellow Fever and Bermuda Blues, that the first husband of A.M. Herring’s mother, Elizabeth May was George Hill. George Hill and Elizabeth were married on February 21, 1842 in Bermuda, and their daughter Sarah Sophia Hill was born in June of 1843. Tragically for the young family, George Hill died in a yellow fever outbreak soon after but we don’t know exactly when.

The men of the Sappers and Miners raised funds to erect a memorial to the enlisted men and non-commissioned officers killed by yellow fever. We had been able to obtain the text of the memorial from Dr. George Cook a member of the St. George’s Historical Society in Bermuda and a Trustee of the St. George’s Foundation but not any photos.

Hilary Tulloch has very kindly sent the following photos of the memorial which is located in the St. George’s Military Cemetery located on Grenadier Lane, St. George’s Parish.

Memorial to Sappers and Miners Killed by Yellow Fever located 149 Grenadier Lane, Bermuda

Memorial to Sappers and Miners Killed by Yellow Fever located 149 Grenadier Lane, Bermuda

Memorial to Sappers and Miners Killed by Yellow Fever located 149 Grenadier Lane, Bermuda

Memorial to Sappers and Miners Killed by Yellow Fever located 149 Grenadier Lane, Bermuda

Inscription on Memorial to Royal Sappers and Miners, Bermuda

Inscription on Memorial to Royal Sappers and Miners, Bermuda

Names of the Non Commissioned Officers and Enlisted Men Killed by Yellow Fever in Bermuda 1843

Names of the Non Commissioned Officers and Enlisted Men Killed by Yellow Fever in Bermuda 1843

Many thanks to Hilary Tulloch for sharing the photos.  If you are also researcher wanting more information about military graves in Bermuda, send us a note and we’ll connect you with Hilary.

Families of Early New Westminster: Herring Memorial Symposium

With the Herring Hundred plus One, behind us, we’re looking for ways to continue sharing information about our shared heritage in New Westminster.  To that end, Ian Herring and Jane Koberstein are excited to announce the first ever Families of Early New Westminster: Herring Memorial Symposium.

The intention is to inspire and share more of the genealogical work pursued so passionately by their parents Marion and Phil Herring.  We invite everyone with an interest in New Westminster’s history to attend and extend a special invitation to those who are pursuing research on the first families to present their findings through archival documents, photos and family treasures during our sessions.

This event is scheduled for Saturday, November 1, 2014 at the Glenbrook Park Centre on Jamieson Court in New Westminster from 10 am to 2 pm.  If you are interested in attending or presenting, please send an email to

Sunny Day for the Hundred Hundred Plus One

It was a beautiful day in Point Roberts on Sunday.  When Ian and I arrived at 10 am the air was crisp and and cool.  Ian got to work immediately putting up the awning to provide a little shade from the afternoon sunshine.  We needed it.  It was a wonderful, sunny day for the Herring Hundred plus One.

If last year’s Herring Hundred brought together the generations of offspring of Phillip “Sid” Herring (son of Arthur May and Frances Elizabeth), this year, the descendants of Mabel Harriet Frances (daughter of AM and FE) were out in force.

Pat Seipp brought a couple of photos her grandparents Frances and George Wilson with their daughter, also called Frances Elizabeth.

George and Frances Wilson c. 1912

George and Frances Wilson c. 1912

And this absolutely beautiful one of Frances and Frances Elizabeth:

Frances (née Herring) Wilson and Frances Elizabeth

Frances (née Herring) Wilson and Frances Elizabeth

These now grown grandkids of George and Frances also remembered spending warm summer days at the point and swimming in Boundary Bay. Aunt Genie, the widow of John Sheldon Wilson remembered travelling from Victoria with their children and staying up the road from our place.  She also remembered wandering over to our clearing during those long summer days.  “There was a rhododendron,” she remembered.  “That’s it!” we replied, pointing to the shrub now more than fifteen feet tall.

Here are some pics of our guests:



Under the Awning in Pt Roberts

We’re hoping that next year our guest list will include some of the descendants of Arthur Francis Charles Herring (the eldest child of FE and AM) so we would have complete set and perhaps realize Phil Herring’s dream of bringing this family of cousins and siblings back together connected by shared stories.

Ian and I are so grateful for everyone’s openness and curiosity and we look forward to sharing more of our discoveries with you!

Join Us in Point Roberts for the Herring Hundred plus One

Family and friends gathered in Point Roberts, Washington July 28, 2013 to mark the centennial of Herring property ownership.

Family and friends gathered in Point Roberts, Washington July 28, 2013 to mark the centennial of Herring property ownership.

We hope everyone has been enjoying a wonderful summer. Ian has just returned from shooting our new series Bahama Blue and we invite you to join us in Point Roberts for the Herring Hundred plus one. As someone of you know, family legend has it that Frances Elizabeth Herring bought the first parcel of land in Pt Roberts with the proceeds of her books back in 1913.

Point Roberts holds a special place in the hearts of the Herrings. Frances Elizabeth even set her book Canadian Camp Life at the Point and generations of Herring descendants have spent happy summer days there.

We welcome everyone friends and family to drop by on Sunday, July 27th any time after 11 am. We’ll provide hotdogs and soft drinks. Please bring a dish of food to share (appies, salads, desserts) and adult beverages, if you wish.

Do drop us an email at or reply to this post to let us know you are coming so we can have enough hotdogs!

Is this a Frances Elizabeth Herring Photo?


When we had our lovely dinner with Pamela Lockhart and Pat Seipp, Pat shared a CD of photos of Frances Elizabeth Herring that been previously scanned.  This photo caught my eye as one I hadn’t seen before.

Frances Elizabeth Herring c. 1881 to 1889

Frances Elizabeth Herring c. 1881 to 1889

We’re also lucky enough to have this information from the back of the photo:Herring-back2According to Pioneer Photographers of the Far West: a Biographical Dictionary, 1840-1865, David Cobb operated Cobb’s Dore Gallery at 1114 Market Street in San Francisco from 1881 until 1889, so we have an eight year window within which we can date this photo.  Given that F.E. gave birth and lost children in 1881 and 1882, then again 1884/5 before giving birth to her only daughter Mabel in 1887, it’s difficult to imagine a trip down the coast, but perhaps additional research could shed some light on this mystery.

Looking more closely at the picture and comparing it to the others we have, it does bear a strong resemblance to Frances Elizabeth, especially in the striking eyes.

When we put it beside the picture we have of FE from c. 1877, I become less certain.

Frances Elizabeth Herring c. 1881 to 1889?

Frances Elizabeth Herring c. 1881 to 1889?

Frances Elizabeth Herring c. 1877

Frances Elizabeth Herring c. 1877










The face seems a little narrower and the sassy short haircut a little uncharacteristic of Frances Elizabeth.  As an alternate theory, we do know that according to the Census, FE’s sister Jane Howell Herring was living with the family in 1881 in New Westminster.  She would marry John Hartwell Pleace in 1883. I wonder if the photo could have been taken of her?

What do you think? Is the picture on the left Frances Elizabeth? If so, why?  If not, do you have any other theories?

Birthdate Confirmed for Arthur Herring Half Sister Rosina

When Elizabeth Crart (née May) succumbed to a post-partum psychosis in October of 1859, she wounded her sons Walter Crart and Arthur Herring, as we discussed previously in our post Born of Tragedy.  Walter was only an infant of about seven months.  He had been born aboard the Thames City during its voyage from Gravesend. Arthur was eight years old and would bear the physical scars for the rest of his life.  The third victim was her daughter Rosina Crart.  Limited records for this early part of British Columbia history means we only know a little about the event.  The inquest refers to Rosina as “an infant,” but Dr Sedall’s testimony refers to “her little girl named Rosina.”  In his newspaper report Amor de Cosmos describes, “a pretty child of three years old, with long flaxen hair.”

Finding other evidence for this child was a little more challenging.  A typo initially obscures this child’s birth record from view.  We see evidence of a Roslanna Crart born in 1856 at Shorncliffe.  After a number of attempts to request the certificate through the General Records Office in London, I finally cracked the code, being required to request an ‘Overseas Birth,’ as all military baptisms were categorized.  Here is the excerpt of the record I received (click to see the full sized version):

Baptismal Record for Rosina Crart

Baptismal Record for Rosina Crart

Despite the spelling error, this is clearly our Rosina Crart, born to her parents Elizabeth and Phillip Crart, a Sapper in the Royal Engineers.  Her birthday was December 13, 1856 and she was christened two months later.  So at the time of her death, she was not quite yet three years old.

I was surprised by my own feelings when I received this record.  Rosina had always been a little ghostly figure, a bit of will-o’-the-wisp.  But with her birthdate, she becomes so real—probably a sturdy legged toddler who was already speaking.  With this confirmation of her age, she comes to life for me—and the story echoes once again with terrible pathos.