Saturday, 16 August 2014

Animals in history

The 2014 Shannon Lectures at Carleton University will be focused on animals in history. What role did an animal play in your family history? My great grandfather clergyman was fined for keeping a dog without a license ... that's as good as it gets. Please leave a comment if an animal story comes to mind in your family story.


Jane E MacNamara said...

My great grandfather, Alfred Kirby Johnson, was a building contractor in London, England. On his way home from working in the city, he hauled kitchen and table scraps from a fancy Italian restaurant to feed his pigs on his small holding in the suburbs. Apparently the pigs enjoyed the exotic fare, but only after the extraneous silverware was removed. And of course, with a little polish and a file, those forks became a commodity, too!

turner said...

My cousin sadly contracted polio as a child in Ottawa in the 1930s. That did not stop him from qualifying as a civil engineer, and later as a physician and bone surgeon. He has had a happy life, a big family, and is now long since retired. Many years after his early diagnosis, while clearing out his mother's effects after her death, he was very distressed to read in some letters about how she had insisted that their dog be put down. Medicine had not yet identified that cause of polio, or she had known it, at least, and she had been convinced "that dirty dog" had caused his illness. That dog had been his best friend as a child. Cheers,

Shirley said...

My parents had a collie or maybe an English sheep dog when I was a baby.
I have a picture of myself in a baby buggy when I was a few months old with the dog Pat right beside my buggy - my mother put me outside every day to get fresh air. I was her first child so I doubt if she left me out there very long without checking on me.
We lived on a farm so Pat rounded up the cattle for my father when it was time for milking. Cattle have to be milked twice a day, regardless of daylight or darkness. When we came home after dark from some afternoon or early evening event my dad still had to milk the cows. If it was dark he sent Pat out to bring the cows to the barn. Pat could round them up and bring them to the barn without running them. This was important because if they ran, their milk would not come down and they would be left with partly full udders which would cause problems.
When I was about twelve Pat disappeared. Regardless of what he was doing he always appeared by the end of the day. Pat never went on to the road by our farm but my dad searched along the road in the area of our farm in case Pat had been on the road and had been hit by a car. He didn't find him. My dad told me that when dogs get old (he was about 14) and know that they are dying they crawl away and die in a place where their owners won't find them. I don't know if this is true or if my dad made it up. Maybe he found Pat's body and didn't want to tell me.

Canadian McDonald descendent said...

My mother's grandparents kept turkeys in a yard between the house and the barn at their homestead in the low mountains west of Pueblo CO. To get to and from the barn, they had to go through the turkey yard. At each gate, there was a pile of sticks. If they forgot to pick up a stick, the turkeys would wait for them to reach the mid-point and attack! It was great fun to send the city cousins to the barn to see a new calf or kitten and watch them run screaming to a gate, followed by the pack of pecking turkeys!

Shirley said...

I have to tell you as a child severely traumatized by a rooster that what appears to be a cute story really isn't. As a child I frequently played in my family's chicken yard. Unfortunately when I was around 2 years old I fell down or was knocked down by a rooster that repeatedly flew over me and would not let my up. One of my parents heard me screaming and rescued me. For many years I could not even touch a feather. I am almost 70 years old and if someone wanted to torture me to learn whatever secrets I could divulge, all that they would have to do is put me in a room with a bird of any size or type and I would quickly tell everything that I know.
A few years after this incident our chickens developed a very contagious condition and had to be killed. The chicken coop had to be burned. It was one of the happiest days of my life since the ruling was that you could not have chickens for a certain number of years, probably seven.

PTKlein said...

Dear Jane,
I am researching a couple of properties that were set back from the Highgate Road in North London. One was a 'hauntingly beautiful' house called The Gothic. The other was known as Grove Farm House. Your Gt grandfather lived at the Grove Farm House from c.1893 till probably 1901. I think by this time it was no longer a fully functioning farm but previously it had kept dairy cows that grazed on the south-eastern flanks of the famous Hampstead Heath. Unfortunately there are no photos of the Grove Farm House but there are photos of the adjoining Grove Farm Cottage and of The Gothic which give a real sense of the place ( if you are interested, let me know). Also, sadly The Grove Farm House and Cottage and the Gothic were all demolished c.1910.
Are there any photos in the family of Alfred and his family? How do you know about the story of Alfred picking up scraps from the Italian restaurant? It is quite a specific detail - did he write a diary?
I have other details regarding Alfred that you may not know.
Please contact me at:
Kind regards