#52 Ancestors Week 5 - "In the Census"

1871 Census of Canada for Thomas Maw
Howard, Bothell, Ontario
My mom didn't know her mother. She never talked about it. When something bad would happen she'd some times have a brief pity party. Growing up without her mother would go on the list of all the ways life isn't fair. That's about it. I didn't know anything about my maternal grandmother. No pictures, no stories, nothing.

I found out how my grandmother died after pouring over her death certificate.
Winnifred West Dempster had myocarditis, a viral heart disease, for 2 years before she became pregnant with my mother. It is an autoimmune disease like lupus. A virus attacks the heart muscle causing inflammation and an irregular heart beat. In the heat of August, the month before my mother was born, Winnifred was admitted to hospital suffering from pericarditis. Sharp pains in the chest, shortness of breath and palpitations are some of the symptoms. She would never come out of the hospital. She was being attended by a physician from August 15 until the day she died, November 3, 1926.  She was 44 years of age. My mother was born on Sept. 3, 1926. She was a 1 month old baby with no mama.😭

Because there is that disconnect in my mom's lineage, there are no links to the matriarchs in her family. The all important mitochondrial DNA!  My grandfather remarried and the step mother is the only one mom ever knew. (Side note, she was not a very nice person). When I started researching the family tree, I had both fingers crossed that I would be able to learn something about the maternal grandmas and grandpas. 

I hit a roadblock finding anything other than a name for Winnifred's mother. Sarah Maus. Was she German maybe? There was her maiden name on the marriage license -  transcribed as Sarah Maus and her husband ... Heyethat Wert. (It's Hezekiah West). I kept searching for Sarah Maus for months until I thought to look at the actual document. The "w"s in the word Howard gave me the idea that maybe her last name was Maw, not Maus. I searched for Thomas, Charlotte and Sarah Maw in Bothell, Howard, Ontario. The Maws were in the 1871 census.There were siblings too, oh joy. This was the missing link, and opened the door for a huge flow of information.

Parents Thomas and Charlotte now have approximate birth years in England. With more searching I found the exact town Thomas emigrated from. The tiny farming village of Wroot, Lincolnshire, England. Charlotte MacBrayne Moor Maw was from nearby Wrawby. 

Great grandmother Sarah Maw died when she was 36. My grandmother was just 10 years old. I found Winnifred in the 1901 census living with her paternal uncle Cornelius and his family. 18 years old and a dressmaker. There was a girl cousin her same age. Thank goodness! The following year she would marry my grandfather. A sad pattern for the mamas in this family. Great grandmother Charlotte Moore Maw also died young at age 41. 

My mother wasn't into psychology like I am.  She rarely liked to have "deep thoughts" discussions. If she ever examined her feelings, there must be a sense of survivor's guilt and maybe abandonment over her mother's death. Mom passed away in 2010 after a long period of aphasia following a stroke. It was very frustrating for her because she loved to talk. I imagine all of the matriarchs together now, getting to know each other. Apart from my mother who lived to be 83, they were here on Earth for a brief time. I'd like to give them a big celestial group hug. 💕


  1. How sad to have several generations of mothers who died so early. And, I can imagine your mother might have felt survivor's guilt. How sad! I love your idea of a "big celestial group hug" and hope it is happening!

    1. 😇💗 i bet they're making up for lost time!