Tag Archives: Robert Clifford

Clifford Family in Winooski, Vermont

I just noticed this today:

In 1900 Sarah Clifford and her sisters Margaret and Elizabeth all lived together in a house on River Street in Winooski/Colchester, Chittenden County, Vermont.  All three are working as weavers in the wool mills.

In 1910 Elizabeth and Sarah are still living there together at 93 River Street.  Sarah doesn’t seem to be working, but Elizabeth is listed as working in the wool mills as a weaver.  Margaret is living separately in Bridgewater, Windsor, VT and working as a weaver also.

In 1920 all three are living together again back at 93 River Street.  Sarah isn’t working, but Elizabeth and Margaret are still weavers.

Elizabeth died 6 February 1929 from a heart condition.

In 1930 Sarah and Margaret are living at 93 Water Street together.

Sarah died 18 March 1935 from a fractured femur.

Margaret is still living there in the 1940 Census, so she must have died sometime after that.  She was 74 in 1940.  Haven’t found a death cert yet.

As far as I know none of the three ever married or had any children.

Today I just noticed that the house they lived in is on the corner of River Street and Clifford Street.  It was called Clifford Street even in 1900, so I suspect it was the family home where they lived with their parents Robert Clifford and Agnes McWhirter.  The family moved there from Alburg, VT sometime around 1872.

93 River Street, Winooski, VT

I might just write to the current residents and request a photo.

Robert Clifford and Agnes McWhirter – Church Records

I’ve been trying to get my hands on church records for Agnes McWhirter and Robert Clifford. I started with Rev. Craig Smith from a church in Winooski I basically selected at random. He referred me to Anne Brown, the communication minister for the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont. I had written to her:

I’m researching my family history. My great-great-great-grandmother, Agnes (McWhirter) Clifford was a member of Trinity Church in Winooski. She lived in Winooski, Burlington and Colchester. Her obituary says “Mrs. Clifford was a member of Holy Trinity Church, being one of the organizers of the society”. Her funeral took place there about July 26, 1898 after her death in her home on Clifford Street in Winooski.

I’m really hoping that some church records might be available to tell me more about her and her husband Robert Clifford. They both immigrated here from Ireland, and without definite birth dates, or places, or names of parents it can be almost impossible to track their families across the ocean. Sometimes churches have little biographies or other information on members, especially founding members. I’m wondering if such a thing exists.

Ann wrote back to me to apologize for the delay in responding, then said:

I am not sure what church that might have been — there is no Holy Trinity now in Winooski. The only one we have is in Swanton, quite a ways north. I have forwarded your note to our diocesan historiographer, who may be of more help. Her name is Elizabeth Allison, email: eallison@dioceseofvermont.org. She is in the office a couple of days a week, so you may not hear from her right away. Feel free to write back to me if you don’t hear anything from her in a week or so.

Elizabeth wrote back:

There was a mission in Winooski – Trinity, not Holy Trinity. The only Holy Trinity is Swanton. Off the top of my head, I don’t know what we have on Winooski but will check and try to provide an answer to the query.

Anne assures me that the records should be there in Elizabeth’s collection. We shall see!

Update: 29 Mar 2012

Heard back from Elizabeth. No good news:

Dear Charles,

Your request followed a circuitous route in getting to me as Historiographer of the Diocese.

Unfortunately, while Trinity Mission, Winooski was established in 1876, the pre 1899 records are limited to subscription lists for the building. I checked the 4 lists for 1875-1876 and found no references to McWhirter or Clifford families. I did scan the post 1899 records but found no references to either family there. The single history of the Mission published in the 1890 Convention Journal contains no mention of either family.

I am certain all of this is very disappointing to you and unfortunately, I have no idea where to direct you in your research to find any other records.


Elizabeth E. Allison, Registrar and Historiographer, Episcopal Diocese of Vermont

Robert Clifford – Station Agent

Received an email this morning from the Quebec Railway Historical Society. I had written to them asking for information about what a “Station Agent” was, and if they had any employment records for the Eastman train station where Robert Clifford worked prior to his death. He admonished me lightly for not writing in French, reminding me that only 40% of people in Quebec are proficient in English. So I wrote him back in French. :).

About Eastman. A Station Agent is an employee (a kind of laborer) who worked to handle freight stock, handle the track switches, sell tickets, and perhaps might have done accounting or operated the telegraph.

The former name of Eastman station is Warne’s Crossing. This name was assigned by the Waterloo and Magog Railway, the first line to pass through the area, in 1877. This company ceased to exist in 1888 when “the CP short line” (Atlantic North West Ry.) was built, including the construction of a big trestle over the village of Eastman. The station reopened in 1892 when the Orford Mountain Railway was in operation between Eastman and Kingsbury.

You might have more luck if you contact the “Brome County
historical Society” (http://www.bromemuseum.com/).

Also, I suggest a book : Railways of Southern Quebec, Ed. Railfare
(www.railfare.net). This book will have more information about Waterloo & Magog, Atlantic North West, and Orford Mountain Ry. It was written by Derek Booth.

I am also sending you a picture of Eastman Station (c1905) from the Brome County Historical Society.

Yours truly,

Claude Martel, geographer-historian
Institut de recherche sur l’histoire des chemins de fer au Québec

The photo he attached shows the Eastman train station where Robert Clifford worked from at least 1886 to his death in 1891:

The Mystery of Robert Erwin Clifford

Robert Erwin Clifford (called by my grandmother “Robert Clifford Jr.”, but I’m not sure “Jr.” is really warranted because I think his middle name was different than his father’s) was born 11 Mar 1858 in Alburg, Grand Isle, Vermont.  He was in the 1870 census for Alberg, then sort of fell off the face of the planet.  My grandmother had noted in her records “Robert left home and was never heard from again”.  So I set out to find him.

The first thing I found was a very small news item in the “Winooski Wavelets” section of  the March 04, 1891  “Argus and Patriot” in Vermont.  It said:

Robert Clifford, a station agent at Eastman, P.Q., a former very popular townsman, died last week.  Lizzie and Nellie Clifford, his sisters, went to attend the funeral.

So this explained why he had “vanished”.  He had moved out of the country to Quebec, Canada.  It also showed that at least two members of his family knew of his death, even if the news didn’t make it to my family.  One source of confusion could have been that his father, Robert Clifford, died 14 March 1891, and the son (also Robert Clifford) died 23 February 1891.  So less than three weeks apart.  Perhaps the news of the “Death of Robert Clifford” got conflated?

I found the date of Robert’s death and his gravesite on FindAGrave.com.  This is his gravestone in the South Stukely Cemetery, South Stukely, Quebec, Canada. Plot: Range 9 Lot 3 No 2:

I had sent an email to the Quebec Historical Society regarding him:

One of my Grand-Uncles Robert Clifford was working as a station agent in Eastman, Québec when he died at the age of 33 on February 23,1891.  I’d love to find an obituary or other source to figure out why he died so young.  He had run away from his home in Vermont, USA, and hadn’t told anyone where he was for years and years.  I have no idea if he was married, had kids, etc.  Are any of the newspapers you have online likely to have such an obituary?  Thank you.

And they responded today saying they had had no luck:

Bonjour Monsieur Thomas,

Research was conducted in the genealogy database Ancestry Library Edition unsuccessfully.

We looked into Baptism, Marriage, Burial directories of the region of Eastman-Orford without success.

We also searched in the Sherbrooke Gazette [microforme] MIC A 95 from 15 to 30 February 1891, without success.

Reference : Ancestry Library Edition

Paroisse Saint-Édouard de Eastman, comté de Brome, 1894-1993 : répertoire des baptêmes, mariages, sépultures et annotations marginales / ce répertoire a été compilé, édité… par la Société de généalogie des Cantons de l’Est inc.

BMSA de St. Patrick de Sherbrooke, 1889-2007 / ce répertoire a été compilé, édité… par la Société de généalogie des Cantons de l’Est inc. ; [ont collaboré à la réalisation du présent répertoire, Guy Lazure…et al.]

Protestant church records in Richmond and Drummond counties : births, marriages, deaths / [Société de généalogie des Cantons de l’Est inc.]

Sherbrooke Gazette [microforme] MIC A 95

We thank you for the interest you have shown in Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.

Do not hesitate to contact us as needed.

User services

Perhaps the South Stukely Cemetery might have an obituary saved in their records, or additional information about how he died.  Sometimes cemeteries save that kind of thing.

Click here for part 2…

Clifford Family – Quebec Newspaper Archive

Laurie Winter sent this with regard to trying to find an obituary for Robert Clifford Jr, who died in Quebec:

Have you tried the provincial National Archives?  I’ve worked mainly with the ones in Ontario, but Quebec has it’s own branch.  I know that they’ve started offering some digitized newspapers, so you may want to search their digital collections and see what’s available.  Here’s a link to the collections page:

Update 28 Feb 2012:
I heard back from Joan Benoit, the Executive Secretry of the Quebec Historical Society who said:
There was a newspaper called the Sherbrooke Gazette. It has been indexed by Pamela Waugh.  We would suggest you google her name or the name of the newspaper to acquire access to the resource.
I didn’t find Pamela, although I did find a transcription of the Sherbrooke Gazette done by a guy named Mat Adron <madron AT cogeco DOT ca>.  He explained that there is, indeed, a hole in that period where Robert Clifford died (he died in Eastman, Quebec on 23 February 1891 at the age of 33).  I asked him if any French papers might have covered that time period.  He said:
I did use several years of French papers but found that they don’t carry an ‘English’ obituary unless they had a connection to the French Canadians, such as a politician or a doctor. There were/are two solitudes.