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By  -  Blake McIntyre

 Who were Mary Almeda Fretz and John Fretz and what is their connection to the McIntyres of Louth and Clinton Townships ?


 In July of 2013 I was seeking to confirm the location and ownership of my paternal grandfather’s 1920’s home in Jordan, Ontario, a home whose location I was certain I knew. That is, until two acquaintances independently claimed I was wrong. Not only that, they agreed unwittingly on which was the correct home. A family historian and amateur genealogist cannot tolerate doubt, or error, though the latter is more common that I care to admit. The research began.


The counsel of friend, distant relative even (half third cousin), and member of the local genealogical research community, Mary Lou (High) Garr, was sought. She advised going to the Lincoln Archives, hidden away in several basement rooms in the former “Lodge” building at the erstwhile Vineland Station Experimental Farm.


It is a too well-kept secret that these archives contain, among others treasures, a computer database of land registry documents (Beamsville, Clinton Township & Louth Township, 1858-1955), searchable by surname, potentially a genealogical gold mine! The Archive volunteers, who not incidentally, were at least partially responsible for the rescue and preservation of the records which form the basis of the database quickly retrieved four and ultimately seven property deed synopses bearing our McIntyre surname. Not incidentally, these same volunteers over several years had input the almost 100 years’ worth of information which the database contained. Six of these synopses were property deeds, one of which did confirm the location of the former Clarence McIntyre home on Main St, in Jordan, the location long accepted by his family. Case closed, or so I thought. But in genealogy the story rarely ends.


The originals of all the deeds recorded in the database are stored in the “local history” section of the Rittenhouse Library in Vineland, fully accessible with the guidance of library staff. The seven deeds were scanned and examined further at home. The six property deeds each referenced the purchase or sale of properties by grandfather Clarence McIntyre from 1921 into the 1950s, thus all were relevant to our McIntyre family history.


The deed which then became the unexpected focus of more research was the “quit claim” deed between Mary Almeda Fretz, administratrix of the property of her late husband, John Fretz who died (18 Aug 1921) intestate, and a host of “heiresses and heirs at law”, some nineteen in all, Elsie (nee High) McIntyre, wife of Clarence, among them. In fact there were seven Highs including two spouses, nine Honsbergers including three spouses and three Moyers.

My inference, but so far only inference, was that all of these people were related, and thus, via my grandmother Elsie, possibly part of my extended McIntyre family tree. The new challenge was to prove or disprove this thesis. Put more simply, how were my grandmother and her High relatives connected to Mary Almeda and John Fretz? And to all those Honsbergers and Moyers?


John Fretz had died 18 Aug 1921, without a will, so his heirs were those family members still living at that date.


I started with the known: Elsie (High) McIntyre was one of four siblings born to Jonas High and Emily Boys, the others being Wesley High, Estella High and Roy High. The names of Emily (written as Emma on the deed, but signed as Emily), Elsie, Estella, Wesley (and his wife Mary) and Roy (and his wife Pearl) all appear as “grantors” on the deed. That connects the seven Highs, one mother, four siblings and two spouses all currently identified in the author’s family tree. I learned of no explanation for the inclusion of Wesley’s and Roy’s spouses, nor the exclusion of Elsie’s and Estella’s spouses, both living at the time.


Jonas High’s father was Jacob Honsberger High, which fact led me to look there for a Honsberger connection. In fact, it was Jonas’s mother, Jacob’s wife, Elizabeth Delp Culp, who was the Honsberger connection, for I was to discover that Elizabeth had been previously married to John Honsberger Fretz, father of the late John Fretz of our deed, John Fretz married to Mary Almeda (Ballantyne) Fretz. They had no issue. John Fretz, the younger had a sister, Matilda, who married Henry High Honsberger. They had ten children, including Franklin, Sylvina, Jacob, James, Effie and John named in the deed. The spouses of Franklin (Ida), Jacob (Selina) and John (Florence) were also named, thus accounting for the nine Honsbergers.


The other four siblings of Henry and Matilda were deceased by the date of John Fretz’s passing. But one of them, Elizabeth, who was married to William Henry Moyer, also deceased, was survived by three of her children, Effie Moyer, Gordon Moyer and Hilda Moyer. These three were named in the deed.


Elizabeth Delp Culp, my second great grandmother, was the once unknown link that connected the seemingly diverse group of nineteen heirs of the late John Fretz back in 1921, the heirs that were to give up their claims to his property so that his widow, Mary Almeda could retain it.


Had it not been for the fortunate preservation of these ancestral deeds, and the willingness of the same knowledgeable volunteers to document their contents in a readily searchable format, these brief vignettes of my families past would not likely have been known, or even sought, let alone shared.

A  Member’s Research in the Friends of LINCOLN’s HISTORY ARCHIVES resolves a debate over the location of his Grandfather’s residence in Jordan, Ontario.

THE  SEARCH  ITSELF   A Fortunate Archival Encounter with Mary Lou Garr

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