Sunday, September 2, 2012

Jabez Burns McPherson, son of William Burns McPherson: My Story of Jabezes, Part 7

Children of William Burns McPherson
Wm. Miles, Sara E.,Clara A., Charles C., Victor Allen,  James P., Mamie, & Jabez B.
Courtesy of the Margaret B. McPherson Burmeister Family
and JGH Roots'n'Leaves Archives

Sons of William Burns McPherson
Wm. Miles, James Percy, , Victor Allen, ,Charles C., & Jabez B.
Courtesy of the Margaret B. McPherson Burmeister Family
and JGH Roots'n'Leaves Archives

The above two family photos show the family in which Jabez Burns McPherson was raised.  The photos appear to be taken  a couple of years apart.  Although the names were written on the back of each photo, there are some questions in my mind.  William Miles and Charles C. have rather different looks in the two photos.  In some respects  picture of all of the children appears to have been taken a couple of years before the picture of the sons.  James Percy, Jabez B., and Victor Allen are all quite recognizable. In the family photo, William M. looks like a young man in an ill-fitting suit of  his father.  In the photo of the sons, William M. looks like he has filled out, but Charles C. appears younger than in the family photo.  Odd to my way of thinking.

Jabez Burns McPherson, circa 1888
Son of William Burns McPherson
Courtesy of the Margaret B.McPherson Burmeister Family
and the JGH Roots'n'Leaves Archives

Jabez Burns McPherson, born 8 January 1878, was fourth of five sons born to William Burns McPherson and Emmeline Rozetta Miles McPherson.  The family lived Sherman-Marshfield area of Clark county, Wisconsin,  until the children were grown.  When Jabez' mother, Emmeline,  died in 1890, she left eight children ranging in ages from 26 year old Clara, to 7 year old Victor Allen.   Jabez B.  was about 12 when his mother died.

 Between 1896 and 1914, Canada's new Homestead act opened the prairie land with the lure of free land.  Jabez' father William B. McPherson answered this call of free land and by 1899 he headed to Canada with his sons Willie (Wm. Miles) James Percy, Jabez  and Victor Allen.  They  settled in the Blindman River Valley, Alberta, in what was then known as The Territories. The picture below is the first house that the family built in Alberta, Canada.  Folks around Bentley say that in the first years in Alberta, W.B. and his two younger sons, Jabez and Victor Allen, shared the house with families of  two of the older sons, Wm. Miles and James Percy McPherson.  This was the first "stopping house" on the road from Lacombe to Rimbey, a place where travelers could get food and a place to stay..

Courtesy of Bentley, Alberta, Museum's Chronicles of Bentley
By 1901, according to that  Census of Canada, Jabez had moved out on his own.  It was likely that at this time he was building his first sawmill, and also had come to know the Osgood and Whitezell families.  The vivacious, blonde,  fifteen year old Zella, the eldest daughter of Elijah and Elenora Osgood, must have caught the eye of the 28 year old Jabez.  By  1906, Jabez not only had married Zella, but also had  farm in Bentley and owned and operated a sawmill.  According to the Bentley Chronicles, Jabez ran the sawmill until the area was logged, then sold the equipment and retired from operating a sawmill.  Then one day, while on a picnic, he saw a good stand of timber and decided to build and operate another sawmill.

One of Jabez McPherson's sawmills
Most likely the second, judging by the cars
Courtesy of Bentley, Alberta, Museum's Chronicles of Bentley

 Jabez' wife Zella and friend Gertrude Whitezell shot a bear
Courtesy of Bentley, Alberta, Museum's Chronicle of Bentley

The picture below shows brothers,  James Percy and Jabez Burns McPherson, with some friends at an early Calgary Stampede.  Astraddle the donkey are old time Bentley folks, C. F. Damron and G. Williams.  The fellow holding the tail of the donkey was the husband of Gertrude Whitezell (of bear shooting fame), and a  long time friend of Jabez.

McPhersons & Friends at early Calgary Stampede, 1900s
James P. and Jabez B. McPherson, C.F. Damron, G. Williams  & Web Whitezell
Courtesy of Bentley, Alberta, Museum's Chronicles of Bentley

Although Jabez' brothers and father left the village of Bentley by the mid 1920s, Jabez and Zella stayed and made their home in Bentley.  They built a home in the center of Bentley, which is shown below. Although they had no children, their circle of friends included Web Whitezell and his wife, and Jabez' cousin, also from Wisconsin,  Charles C. Miles and his wife.

Jabez Burns McPherson house in Bentley, mid 1920s
Courtesy of the Bentley, Alberta,  Museum's Chronicles of Bentley

Jabez and Zella lived in Bentley until in their old age when they  moved to a home in Lacombe, a larger town a few miles east of Bentley..  Jabez Burns McPherson died on the 21st of May 1961 at the age of 82.  He was brought home to Bentley for burial.

1880 Fed Census, Sherman, Clark, Wisconsin
1890 Death Record for Emmeline R. McPherson
1901 Census for Canada, The Territories, Alberta
1906 Census for Canada, Red Deer, Alberta
1911 Census for Canada, Red Deer, Alberta
1916 Census for Canada, Red Dear, Alberta
Chronicles of Bentley, Bently, Alberta, Museum
1920 Fed Census, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Margaret B. McPherson Burmeister Family Photo Collection
JGH & Roots'n'Leaves Archives

Jabezes, Part 1
Jabezes, Part 2
Jabezes, Part 3
Jabezes, Part 3, Addendum
Jabezes, Part 4
Jabezes, Part 5
Jabezes, Part 6
Sad and Untimely Death Of Mary Housel McPherson
Housel family in Springdale
Burns Brass Band

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 © Joan Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications


  1. I am in awe of all the photographs you have, Joan. Amazing!

    1. The Chronicles of Bentley and the folks at the Bentley Museum were a tremendous help. When I started I knew little more about this Jabez Burns McPherson than his date of birth. Now I feel like he is a real kith and kin. Also, when my sis saw the picture of him and the guys at the Calgary Stampede, she noticed how much he looked like our Uncle Allen -- which made him feel even closer in kin-dom. Thanks for reading and the comments.

  2. Fantastic photos and so many details, Joan. And I love the name Jabez - I'm sure there's a reason for that particular name in this family. The photo of the bear caught my eye... my cousin up in the Yukon talks about a bear getting into their house one evening a few years ago, and having to carefully drop a kid out the 2nd story to run to a neighbour's for help! Interesting times! Love your posts.

  3. Celia, thanks for your interest. These Jabezes gave me a run for my money before I finally got them straightened out. My guess is that this Jabez had no idea where his name originated --- for him it was an uncle. But his great great grandmother was a very devout Wesleyan Methodist and the big name in the Wesleyan preachers of the early 1800's was that of Rev. Jabez Bunting. Thanks again.