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Sunday, 23 March 2014

Jennie, Part 2: At Last

Hazel really missed Harold went he left for Boston. Because of the era, communication was sporadic at best. They didn't see each other for years. Hazel excitedly wrote her brother when she met the love of her life at the tender age of fourteen, in 1914. The year and her age coinciding were very meaningful to Hazel.

                        Harold Corbett

Then in 1918, Hazel married her sweetheart, Stuart Rector and they settled into life in Garrish Valley, near Economy, Nova Scotia. A number of years later, after they had several children, a tall, balding stranger knocked on the door. 

All he said was, "1914."

Hazel knew instantly that it was her brother. They hugged and cried. Visits back and forth between Nova Scotia and Boston followed. Hazel's children have fond memories of their uncle, who played with them and Aunt Phyllis, his first wife. Harold and Phyllis had one son, Edson. However, the marriage didn't last and Harold eventually re-married, to Marion Beane this time. They had two children, Jacqueline (Jackie) and Douglas. Sadly, that marriage didn't last either and Harold eventually re-married Phyllis.

                                      Harold and Marion Corbett

                                    Edson Corbett

Meanwhile back in Nova Scotia, Ethel eventually married three times. The first time was to John Taylor with whom she had one child. Then she married Harry Barron and eventually Wilbert Willigar with whom she had four children.

                                               Ethel Corbett

The Rectors eventually had ten children and life was busy. Hazel's family met their cousin Jackie once when she visited Nova Scotia with her parents. However, the families lost contact over the years. 

Stuart and Hazel raised their family, and eventually had grandchildren. They lived to have their sixtieth anniversary, a testament to the love which started with a fourteen year old girl. Hazel's brother Harold, died in 1951 and her sister Ethel in 1962. 

                        Stuart and Hazel Rector

                                                 Hazel Corbett Rector

The longing for her mother and her family never left Hazel. Various attempts to discover Jennie's family in Newfoundland were unsuccessful. The problem was due to the name itself. Jennie, to her family, was baptized Martha Jane. It wasn't until after Hazel died that one of Jennie's great grandchildren, John, checked the death registry at the cemetery, Forest Hills in Massachusetts. There the family got the proper name and the names of her parents.

                                           Jennie's Grandchildren

Having Jennie's parents' names made all the difference. Joanne, the Pretty family historian in Newfoundland, could fill in the names of Jennie's siblings and her predecessors.

However, before the family found Jennie's family they found each other. Harold's children by his two wives did not know each other. Their descendants finally found each other and connected with Hazel's descendants as well through a genealogical website. It was the entire group which found Jennie.

Then through the same website, Jennie's family found my great grandfather, Robert's family and Elizabeth's descendants as well. We know of Lydia's family too, but haven't had contact with them.  Many of the descendants of our great great grandparents, Samuel and Harriet Pretty are known to each other and have contact again. This contact was not possible for our predecessors.

In my mind, I always go back to the day I started at the Archives at the Rooms in St. John's, Newfoundland, looking for Pop Pretty's parents' names. Starting with one man led to the knowledge of many lifetimes of wonderful people who had their own stories, loves, children, grandchildren and beyond. It's been an incredible discovery so far and the journey continues.

Written by Betty Giddens Jennings and Marie Pretty Smith

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