Tag: Pamela Stanley

Lucie Bagg’s Mother, Ruth Langworthy

Researching the story of Lucie Bagg, the daughter of my four-times great-grandfather Phineas Bagg, was complicated, but writing about Lucie’s mother has been even more challenging. I was even confused about her mother’s name: I knew that her last name was Langworthy, but was her first name Ruth or Lucy?

I eventually concluded that it was Ruth for reasons I’ll explain later. Meanwhile, I am pretty sure that Ruth grew up in Pittsfield, MA, and that she moved with Phineas from Pittsfield to La Prairie, Lower Canada, around 1795. 

Phineas’ first wife, Pamela Stanley, had probably died between 1792 and 1794, years when there was so much sickness and death in Pittsfield that the minister gave up recording the names of the deceased.1 Phineas was left to bring up four children between the ages of about two and 13.

He soon got into debt and lost his farm to repay his creditors. With nothing left, he must have decided to leave Pittsfield with his children and Ruth, traveling up the Hudson River toward Lake Champlain and Canada.

Houses in the old part of La Prairie

They settled in La Prairie, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River near Montreal, where Phineas became an innkeeper. There, Ruth’s name appears in the baptismal records of their two children. These records are the only times her name appears in any official documents, but they are also the source of the confusion about her first name.

When baby Lucie Bagg was baptized on 12 January, 1798, the priest wrote the mother’s name as Luce Langworthy. When son Louis Bagg was baptized on 17 March, 1800, and when he was buried several days later, his mother’s name appeared as Ruth Langworthy.2

Here’s my theory: both children were baptized at Notre-Dame-de-La Prairie-de-la-Madeleine church in La Prairie, a Catholic church in a town where most of the population, including the priest, spoke French. The “th” sound is not used in French. Perhaps when the priest asked the mother’s name, he misunderstood the reply and wrote Luce instead of Ruth. That is one reason why I have concluded that her name was Ruth.

There is evidence for the existence of a Ruth Langworthy around that time and place,3  with several references to Ruth Langworthy of Pittsfield, MA in the genealogies section of www.familysearch.org. These genealogies, submitted by users, identify her parents as Andrew Langworthy and Ruth Brown. One submission says she was born in 1771. Several others say she was born in 1768 and married James Rathbone (or Rathbun) in 1787. One says she died in 1788. 

The Langworthy Family; some descendants of Andrew and Rachel (Hubbard) Langworthy who were married at Newport, Rhode Island, November 3, 1658, compiled byWilliam Franklin Langworthy and found in the New England Historic Genealogical Society library in Boston, notes that Andrew Langworthy was in Pittsfield in the 1790s. It says Andrew was born in 1741 in Stonington, CT and died 1808 in Pittsfield, MA and his wife, Ruth Brown, was born in 1743 in Plainfield, CT and died in 1825, Utica, NY. The book says the family must have been in Pittsfield by 1790 because Andrew, a Baptist, refused to pay a tax levied on all inhabitants to build a Congregational church there. It lists 11 children, including Ruth and another child named Ruey (could this be Lucy?), with no birth dates for either of them.4

I explored the possibility that the mother’s name could have been Lucy for two reasons: because her daughter was named Lucie (with the French spelling), and because a well-sourced family tree calls her Lucy. The Adams Family Tree, a public member tree on Ancestry.ca,5 has several sources for Lucie Bagg, including her baptism record, but I suspect the compiler did not see the baptism and death records of Lucie’s little brother. 

Phineas Bagg

There is one thing I am sure of. Phineas Bagg and Ruth Langworthy were not married. In her 1856 will,6 Phineas’ daughter Sophia Bagg, widow of Gabriel Roy, left a bequest to Lucie Bagg, identifying her as “fille naturelle du feu M. Phinehas Bagg, mon père,” (natural daughter of gentleman Phinehas Bagg, my father). The term “natural” invariably referred to an illegitimate child.7

Perhaps Phineas and Ruth did not have time to arrange a wedding. Or maybe their relationship was more about convenience than love. Phineas must have needed a partner to help establish the family in a new place, and perhaps Ruth was keen to start a new life.  The other possibility – and this is pure speculation since I do not know the death dates of Pamela Stanley or of James Rathbone — is that either Ruth or Phineas was still married. I have been unable to discover the time and place of Ruth’s death.

See also: 

Janice Hamilton, “An Economic Emigrant,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Oct. 16, 2013, https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2013/10/an-economic-emigrant.html

Janice Hamilton, “Lucie Bagg: Her Story,” Writing Up the Ancestors, March 30, 2016, https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2016/03/lucie-bagg-her-story.html

Janice Hamilton, “Who Was Phineas Bagg?” Writing Up the Ancestors, Oct. 11, 2014, https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2014/10/who-was-phineas-bagg.html

Photo credit: Janice Hamilton

portrait of Phineas Bagg, artist and date unknown; Bagg family collection

Notes and Footnotes: 

  1. Rollin Hillyer Cooke, “Records of the First Church, Pittsfield, Mass” Rollin H. Cooke Collection, Berkshire County, MA, [microfilm, reel 2, vols 26 and 27], Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society, 1961. I went through this manuscript at the archives of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. For many years, the minister of the First Church, Pittsfield carefully recorded the deaths in the community, noting the cause of death for many individuals. But in 1792, he simply wrote, “lost about 30 persons.” Similarly, 26 persons died in 1793 with no names or details recorded, and in 1794, he wrote, “lost 36 persons, 14 being grown up.”
  2. “Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968” [database on-line].  Ancestry.com, www.ancestry.ca (accessed 8 April, 2016), Gabriel Drouin, comp. Drouin Collection. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Institut Généalogique Drouin.  La Prairie did not have a Protestant church at the time, so the children were baptized at the local Catholic church.
  3. I searched for both Ruth Langworthy and Lucy Langworthy on www.ancestry.ca, www.findmypast.com, wwwamericanancestors.org (the website of the New England Historic and Genealogical Society) and www.familysearch.org. I found no results for Lucy at all, and all results for Ruth were in user-submitted collections.
  4. William Franklin Langworthy, compiler. The Langworthy Family; some descendants of Andrew and Rachel (Hubbard) Langworthy who were married at Newport, Rhode Island, November 3, 1658. Hamilton, N.Y.: W.F. and O.S. Langworthy, publishers, 1940. p. 249-250.
  5. “Public Member Trees,” [database] www.Ancestry.ca,Adams Family Tree, Stuart Lauters compiler http://person.ancestry.ca/tree/16093254/person/1077026843/facts (accessed 28 Feb. 2016).
  6. Labadie, Joseph-Augustin, # 14278, 18 Mai 1856. Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.
  7. Two articles that explain the use of the term “natural” child are: Judy G. Russell, “The Natural Son,” The Legal Genealogist(blog), March 28, 2012, http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog/2012/03/28/the-natural-son/ (accessed April 12, 2016) and Donna Przecha, “Illegitimate Children and Missing Fathers. Working Around Illegitimacy,” Genealogy.com (blog), http://www.genealogy.com/articles/research/52_donna.html (accessed April 12, 2916).

Abner Bagg: Black Sheep of the Family?

Abner Bagg seems to have been the black sheep of the Bagg family, although I am not sure why. My great-aunt even insisted he was not related when, in truth, he was the brother of my three-times great-grandfather Stanley Bagg. Perhaps the problem was that Abner’s business had gone bankrupt.

Abner was born on August 5, 1790 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He was the son of farmer Phineas Bagg and Pamela Stanley. His mother died around 1793 and several years later the family left the United States, settling in La Prairie, near Montreal, Lower Canada. 

Abner Bagg of Montreal?

 By 1810, Abner was in business as a manufacturer and importer of hats. At his store in Montreal, he sold “ladies’ bonnets and gentlemen’s fine hats” as well as military hats. A few years later, he opened a hat-making factory in Terrebonne, northeast of Montreal, then a second store in Montreal and one in Quebec City.

On October 22, 1814, Abner married Mary Ann Wurtele, daughter of Quebec City shopkeeper Josias Wurtele, at the Anglican Cathedral in Quebec City. According to the marriage record, Abner was 25 and Mary Ann was 19. The couple eventually had six children, three of whom died as babies. 

With his business doing very well, Abner purchased an empty lot in a suburb just west of Montreal. Between 1819 and 1821, he constructed a large stone house on the property, later adding a warehouse attached to the family home. 

Meanwhile, Abner diversified his business interests. While running the shop, he was also buying white pine from the forests of the Chateauguay Valley, southwest of Montreal. He transported the logs to Montreal and to Quebec City. The big timbers were shipped to England and the smaller logs were cut into firewood. In the early 1820s, when his brother Stanley was one of the main contractors for the excavation of the Lachine Canal, Abner supplied goods such as gunpowder, food and timber to the canal builders. In the 1820s, he bought and sold shares in several steamboats that carried people and goods across the St. Lawrence River.

Abner always kept an eye out for real estate deals, especially at sheriff’s auctions. Sometimes he made improvements to the buildings and then sold them at a profit, sometimes he kept them as rental properties. 

In the mid-1820s, however, things unraveled: his wife died in 1827, and his hat business went bankrupt. He had expanded too rapidly, using unsecured personal notes rather than cash, so when a large-scale commercial crisis reached Canada around 1825, sales fell and he was unable to repay huge debts to suppliers in England, or to others. 

Bankruptcy was not unusual. There was never enough hard cash circulating in British North America, nor was there an extensive banking sector, so merchants had to rely on credit and promises to back up their friends’ and relatives’ loans. And after he went bankrupt, there were no rules to protect his creditors or to help him through the crisis. Abner’s personal credit was ruined. 

After his business failed, Abner’s main source of income was rent from the houses he owned. He transferred these properties to his brother Stanley to hold in trust while the income went toward paying off his debts. Eventually, however, Abner had trouble feeding his family, and Stanley had to start selling the properties, including the family home.

Mary Ann Mittleberger Bagg

On February 12, 1831, Abner remarried. His second wife’s name was also Mary Ann: Mary Ann Mittleberger. They married in Montreal’s Anglican Christ Church, and, although Mary Ann was Catholic and remained so all her life, their nine children were baptized Anglican.  

Two months later, Abner and Stanley were both baptized at Christ Church. Along with a number of other New England-born Montrealers, Abner had previously been a member of the city’s Scotch Presbyterian Church. Perhaps the Anglican religion was now more in line with his beliefs, or perhaps he looked at the Anglican Church as a step up socially. 

In his remaining years, Abner tried unsuccessfully to reopen the hat factory. He travelled a great deal, buying flour and salt pork as far west as Ohio, and selling it to military posts in Upper Canada. 

Abner died on March 21, 1852, age 64. The church record of his funeral referred to him as “gentleman,” so he must have restored some of his reputation in society. I have yet to find out where he was buried. He was survived by his widow, one daughter from his first marriage and four children from his second marriage. At the time of his death, the youngest was just four years old. The widowed Mary Ann lived until 1896. 

Photo Credits:

eBay; Mrs. A. Bagg, Montreal, QC, 1862; I-4366.1 © McCord Museum; news.google.com

See also:

Janice Hamilton, “Stanley Bagg’s Difficulties” Writing Up the Ancestorshttps://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2014/01/stanley-baggs-difficulties.html

Janice Hamilton, “An Economic Emigrant”   Writing Up the Ancestors, https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2013/10/an-economic-emigrant.html


Here is a list of Abner’s fifteen children, seven of whom lived to adulthood. I do not have all their marriage and death dates, only what I can find easily on Ancestry.com and in family records. Two of the daughters married two brothers, Henry and Samuel Shackell, who came from England.

Abner Bagg’s children with Mary Ann Wurtele:

  • Sophia b. 1816, d. 1850; not married
  • Abner Wurtele b.1818; d. 1818
  • Mary Ann Louisa, b. 1819; m.
  • John Porteous, 1856
  • Caroline Eleanor b.1820; d. 1820
  • Clarissa Matilda  b. 1822; d. 1848; not married
  • Catherine Pamela b. 1824; d. 1826

Abner Bagg’s children with Mary Ann Mittleberger:

  • George Augustus Frederick Edward b. 1832; d. 1845
  • Margaret Elizabeth Charlotte Eleanor b. 1833; d. 1834
  • Emma b. 1835; d. 1835
  • Alfred Solomon Phineas b. 1836; m. Priscilla Carden, 1876, Abbotsford, QC ; d. 1912 (he was sometimes referred to as A.S.P. Bagg, sometimes as Alfred S. Bagg)
  • Charles Stanley Roy b. 1838; d. 1838
  • Mary Eliza b. 1839; m. Samuel Shackell; d. 1915
  • Emma Adelaide  b. 1842; d. 1842
  • Margaret Pamilla Roy b. 1844; m. Henry Shackell 1865
  • Emily Caroline Stanley  b. 1848; m. Charles William Radiger of Winnipeg, 1885

Abner’s exact date of birth is unclear. The record of his adult baptism in 1831 gives his date of birth as August 5, 1790, however, calculating his sister Sophia’s birthday from her age at death, she was born around February 20, 1791. At least one of those dates must be wrong. At his death in 1852, Abner’s age was recorded as 64, which would have meant he was born in 1788, the year brother Stanley was supposed to have been born. When he was married in 1814, Abner gave his age as 25, which would have meant he was born in 1789. 

There was a portrait of Abner Bagg for sale on eBay a few years ago, so I made a screen shot of it. Unfortunately, the resolution is terrible. Also, I do not know whether this was the Abner Bagg of Montreal, since there were two other Abner Baggs in the United States at about same the time. They were all related, although I haven’t worked out the family tree.  

There is lots of solid information on Abner’s business activities and financial difficulties. The pay records for his hat business, copies of letters and an 1816 inventory of his possessions are part of the Bagg Family Fonds at the McCord Museum in Montreal. In 1970, historian Donald Fyson used those records to prepare an article about Abner for the museum, and I used his paper as a source for this story. The Fonds also recently acquired material from the estate of Joan Shackell, a direct descendant of Abner. 

Abner’s business agreements can be found among the notarial records at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. For example, the act of notary N.B. Doucet 134-11205, 31 October 1823 is one of many wood contracts Abner signed. Jobin 215-4778, 30 March 1829 is a document in which Abner rented out a three-storey stone house he owned. Crawford 102-178, 9 July 1830 was an act in which Abner transferred the ownership of his properties to his brother and Stanley agreed to advance the funds to pay Abner’s debts.

Newspapers provide snapshots of people’s activities. This ad from The Montreal Herald, Oct. 14, 1826 is at https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=apgxAAAAIBAJ&sjid=likDAAAAIBAJ&pg=942,6061397&dq=bagg+montreal&hl=en. The Montreal Star archives came online on Newspapers.com in 2022.

Notices in the Canada Gazette referred to a variety of topics from property sales to official appointments. For example, a notice dated March 24, 1847 announced that Abner was a captain in the third battalion of the militia: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/canada-gazette/093/001060-119.01-e.php?image_id_nbr=138&document_id_nbr=1601&f=p&PHPSESSID=j1au0sblq8sejaol266jar2vp4

Digitized books can be an excellent source of information about the past. For example, I consulted Thomas Doige, An Alphabetical List of the Merchants, Traders, and Housekeepers residing in Montreal, to which is prefixed a descriptive sketch of the town. Montreal: printed by James Lane, 1819. https://archive.org/details/cihm_36464

Another book about the period is Robert Campbell, A History of the Scotch Presbyterian Church, St. Gabriel Street, Montreal. Montreal: W. Drysdale, 1887. https://archive.org/details/cihm_00397

The Centenary of the Bank of Montreal, 1817-1917, published by the bank in 1917, https://archive.org/stream/centenaryofbanko00bankuoft#page/78/mode/2up, shows that Abner was one of the bank’s original shareholders. Doige’s directory indicates that, two years later, he was one of the directors of the Bank of Canada. In 1826, the Bank of Montreal issued protests against Abner because he had not paid his debts (Griffin 187-6273 1 March 1826).      

The Canada, British Army and Canadian Militia Muster Rolls and Pay Lists, 1795-1850 database on Ancestry.com shows that Abner Bagg was paymaster for the volunteer militia during the 1837-1838 rebellion in Lower Canada.