John TOBIN and Bridget COLEMAN
Lot 19, Concession 5, Osgoode Township, Ontario, Canada
August 29, 2003:
Census for Osgoode Township, Russell, Ontario, Canada, 1881
Source: FHL Film 1375865 NAC C-13229 Dist 104 SubDist G Div 2 Page 27 Family 121
Name Sex Marr Age Origin Birthplace Occupation Religion
John TOBIN M M 40 Irish USA Farmer Catholic
Bridget COLEMAN TOBIN F M 35 Irish Ontario Catholic
Richard TOBIN M 10 Irish Ontario Catholic
Patrick James TOBIN M 8 Irish Ontario Catholic (see the cemetery transcript below)
Rosan TOBIN F 6 Irish Ontario Catholic
Martin TOBIN M 4 Irish Ontario Catholic
Bridget M. TOBIN F 2 Irish Ontario Catholic
E-mail Peggy Tobin Edsall, Al Lewis
August 12, 2013
We have no problem tracing our Stokes family in Ireland since they were the only family named Stokes who were Roman Catholic. But we are
interested in Richard Tobin. The following information came from an elderly relative in the 1950's whose great-grandfather was Richard Tobin.
Richard is a recurring name in the family. She believed he was born in Ireland in 1770 and moved to London where her grandfather (also
called Richard) was born in the early 1800's. From the records of the land grant he must have emigrated when he was at least 18 or 20 so
she may have the dates a little off. He received a grant of land from the Crown in a place called Metcalfe Village. She thinks it was a sizable grant
and later some of the land was given to the bishop of Ottawa to build a church (St. Catherine's) and that the Tobins continued to live on the rest of the
land. She said his children were Richard Jr., Martin (who was her father), Ellen, Michael (who was my grandfather), William, John and James.
She said Richard was born in 1836, Martin in 1938 and Michael in 1848. She thought their house was still standing but she was telling my
brother this in the 1950's; incidentally she was the first commander of the Army School of Nursing at Walter Reed Hospital. I (like apparently legions
of Tobins) am curious if the information we have is correct.
Peggy Tobin Edsall
August 12, 2013
Thanks for your interesting e-mail regarding the early Tobin family at Metcalfe, Ontario, Canada. These properties and the village of Metcalf
are now located within the expanding City of Ottawa, Canada's capital city.
Attached is a map from the year 1879 showing the village of Metcalf and three farms belonging to the Tobin family. My wife, Grace, located
this map, and has outlined the Tobin properties on it.
This is an interesting family who came to the Ottawa area in the late 1820's. We haven't checked for early church and census records yet,
but there is likely quite a bit of information to be uncovered. My ancestors lived a few miles from the Tobins and they attended the same
churches and are buried in the same cemeteries.
Source: McGill University Digital Map 1879
August 12, 2013
I was visiting my brother in Washington. His nephew George is the one who is compiling the family history. It was sheer accident that I
landed on your site. I had received documents about the Stokes family of Tralee, County Kerry. This was my grandfather's family. And (despite the fact
that I am a librarian) I thought there might be someone who was interested in the local history of Metcalfe and without doing any kind of
research just tapped it in and found it fascinating. Now I have, thanks to your wife, the land grant information. Perhaps as we connect
with other Tobins we can find out more about the family. I have visited Ireland and was taken to the ancestral home of of the Tobins.
It is a large stone castle but only the keep is standing. Next to it is a rather fine Georgian house where the family was kind enough to
let me in and take me up to the floor where you could look in the keep. I have a color photo of this. This is located in Mullinahone
located in County Tipperary. When you connect me to the Tobin site I can give some other information but my Irish researcher who is Timeline in
Dublin and I agreed that it is probably impossible to know where in Ireland they lived since there are so many Tobins in Tipperary and
Kilkenny although in five visits there I never met another Tobin and was told it was a Norman name and not really Irish. It derives from
St. Aubyn. Perhaps they all emigrated!! I am 78 and the only Tobin I ever met here was the daughter of Maurice Tobin who was a well
known politician in Massachustts.
Peggy Tobin Edsall
August 12, 2013
Hello again, Mrs. Edsall:
Thanks for your e-mail.
We will add your information regarding your Tobin ancestors to our web site tomorrow (Monday). I'm not sure if we are related but our
families knew each other during the 1800's and served as godparents, best man, etc. for each other according to the church records.
... Al Lewis
August 13, 2013
This tombstone text was found in Our Lady of Visitation Roman Catholic Church Cemetery, South Gloucester, Ontario, Concession 4, Lot 28
(formerly called St. Mary's), recorded by David G. Bryden, August 1985:
beloved husband of Theresa Finley / Finlay
Mary B.B. Tobin
April 9, 1917, Ae 3 yrs 11 mos.
August 30, 2013:
I am enclosing a partial family history as written by my brother. Mary (Mamie) married Fenton
Brydle and they started the Tilo Roofing Company which was in Queens, New York, USA, but spread to branches all over the Eastern seaboard.
Mamie sent the youngest boy Robert (Bert) to MIT and he later became president (of the company). My father, George, started out at
university in Washington but had to drop out to take care of his parents and run the family farm. Later, he came East and Mamie
told him to work as a roofer.
He was one of those people who could talk to anyone about everything and rose to be vice-president in charge of sales. When Bert
died, the company was sold to Reynolds Aluminium. Mamie died at 93. My uncle Frank drifted about. Gene earned money as a guide for
hunters and was a none-too-successful prospector. I remember they were all very tall except for Bert, my Dad and Mamie.
I loved the tales my father told about living in the logging camps and helping out when his father got sub-contracts on the
railroads. My grandfather was a staunch defender of the Crown and maintained his Canadian roots. My maternal grandmother came from
Antigonish in Nova Scotia.
Peggy Tobin Edsall
The Tobins: A Family History
Back Row, Left to Right: Robert (Bert), Katherine (Kit), Francis (Frank) Eugene (Gene)
Front Row, Left to Right: Della, Loretta, Marie (Mamie), George
The Origin of the Tobin Name / Coat of Arms
The memory of St. Aubin, the Martyr, and of the little town in France called after him is enshrined in the Irish name TOBIN.
It happened this way.
Among the fighting men who followed William the Conqueror to England was a Norman soldier rom the district of Saint Aubin. In England
he came to be known as De Saint Aubin indicating his geographic origin. A descendant of this Anglo-Norman family settled in Ireland in
the wake of the Norman invasion and obtained lands in County Tipperary under the aegis of the Butlers.
Like so many of the Norman settlers in Ireland, the family in the course of time became thoroughly Hibernicized. The Gaelic name TOBIN
is simply an Irish rendering of the sound of the old Norman surname, "de Saint Aubin".
Historically, the main stem of the TOBIN (sometimes TOIBIN) family were liegemen of the Butlers. As is only natural, reference to them
in Irish annals is largely overshadowed by the renown, power and influence of the Butlers. But the archives of the Butlers, Dukes of
Ormonde, contain frequent mention of the TOBINS as allies and associates throughout those centuries when the Ormondes were a power in
From their ancestral home in Tipperary, members of the TOBIN family spread to the adjoining countries of Waterford and Cork. It is in
these three counties that the greatest number of TOBINS are to be found today.
1. Irish Roots
My father, George Tobin, didn't know much about his own family and what he did know was sometimes embellished a bit. Fortunately, I had
an opportunity to write down the recollections of Mary Tobin, my father's first cousin, the daughter of Martin Tobin and the niece of
Michael Tobin, my grandfather. Between my father's remembrances and hers I have been able to develop a brief account of my grandfather's
Mary Tobin believes that her great-grandfather was named Richard Tobin. Apparently, Richard was a favorite name among Tobins and was
usually given to the eldest son. My grandfather's oldest brother was also called Richard, as was my father's oldest brother. Mary Tobin's
oldest brother was also called Richard.
Mary Tobin believes that her great-grandfather was born in Ireland around 1770 and that he moved to the London area, where Mary's
grandfather (also Richard) was born in the early 1800's.
For some reason or other, Richard Tobin, her grandfather, received a grant of land from the English crown. The land was located in a
place called Metcalf, near Ottawa, Canada. She believes that it was a grant of very large size. She further believes that the original
Tobin house is still on the property and that Tobins have lived there continuously on the land, although most of it has been sold. Some
of the land was given to the Catholic Bishop of Ottawa for a cathedral.
Mary listed the children of Richard Tobin (her grandfather) as follows: Richard Jr., Martin (her father), Ellen, Michael (my grandfather),
William John and James. Richard was born in 1836, Martin in 1838 and Michael in 1848. Other birth dates are unknown.
Mary Tobin provided a lot of information on my grandfather's brothers and sisters. She died shortly thereafter and was buried in Arlington
National Cemetery, an honor befitting a woman who was the first commandant of the Army Nursing School. She was, in addition, a perfectly
wonderful person. Her recollections reflect her humor and her love of her family, particularly her father and brothers, two of whom,
Dick and Martin were known to me.
2. Mary Tobin's Reminiscences about Her Family's Forbearers
a) Richard Tobin
Richard was the oldest of her grandfather's children. He entered the building business in Ottawa and later moved to the San Francisco area.
Mary thinks the move might have been prompted by the disgrace brought upon the family by one of his daughters, who married several times
out of the Church.
At the time Richard moved to San Francisco (which must have been shortly after the Civil War), the Hibernian Bank was controlled by another
branch of the Tobins. Because of his illustrious name he was excused from paying pew rent in church.
Richard's wife was a Fanning, whose family emigrated from England to Canada with the Tobins. Richard proposed to her by proxy, but she
insisted on a personal proposal, and he complied. They had five children:
* Annie, who wanted to be a nurse, but ended up marrying a Southern Pacific Railroad official and settling in the Bay area.
* Florence, the wild one who married a member of the English Parliament, divorced him and married another English aristocrat. She had a title.
* Other girl (name forgotten), who married into the McGovern family of Ottawa. Her husband's brother was the Bishop of Ottawa.
* Will and Gus, Richard's sons, who were very wild. Both settled in the Bay area. Will apparently served in the Canadian Army.
b) Martin Tobin
Martin Tobin was Mary Tobin's father, whom she described in glowing terms. She states that he was very handsome and tall, adding that "…all
Tobin men are handsome or legend would have it so."
Martin was induced to leave Canada and move to the States by a cousin of his father named Tom Tobin. Martin moved to Plattsburg, New York.
Tom Tobin lived nearby and had a son Jimmy who served in the Civil War then spent the rest of his life drinking.
Martin was a blacksmith, wheelwright, plumber and painter. He was also a local Democratic leader. Apparently, he did quite well, but was
a fairly big spender.
Martin had three children by his first wife: Richard, William and Michael (called Nick). Martin remarried after his first wife's death and
had five more children: Mary, Margaret, Elizabeth, Martin Jr., and Eugene Francis, who died as an infant. What little I know about this
branch of the family is listed below.
* Richard never married and was a very successful executive with Singer Sewing Machine, spending much of his life in Japan. I remember
him well because he used to send me exotic oriental stamps, and late in his life when he was suffering with cancer, he used to come by
our house in Coral Gables to go to the horse races with my parents. He wagered heavily.
* William was a bachelor who devoted himself to drinking. He lived to be very old and married his housekeeper in his 80's.
* Nick had TB and was sick most of his life.
* Mary never married and had a very successful career as a nursing administrator and educator. She served in the Army Nursing Corps as
its commandant, and several high-ranking officers came to her funeral in the Fort Myer chapel at Arlington Cemetery. She also was Dean
and Founder of the Duquesne Nursing School and an adviser to Yale on its nursing program. I saw her a number of times and always found
her good-natured and likable. She attended my graduation from college and in her last years at the Army Distaff Hall I visited her
frequently and obtained much of the information I am now writing. Her obituary follows:
Mary W. Tobin, 92, Dies; Army Nurse School Head
Mary W. Tobin, 92, the first commandant of the Army School of Nursing at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, died Friday at the Army Distaff
Hall here where she had been living.
Miss Tobin was a member of the school's first graduating class in 1921. After her graduation, she taught at the Public Health School of
Nursing at Fort McHenry for one year and then joined the faculty at Walter Reed.
She was there for 11 years; the last six as commandant. Before leaving the army in the early 1930s, Miss Tobin had been made a lieutenant -
the highest rank then given women.
She later was counselor at the Yale School of Nursing and founded and was the first dean of the school of nursing at Duquesne University
in Pittsburgh. The university awarded her an honorary doctorate of humanities in 1962.
Miss Tobin leaves no close relatives. Mass will be said at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday at the Fort Myer Chapel, with burial in Arlington Cemetery.
* Martin Tobin Jr. married but had no children. He worked for the federal government, and I remember meeting him one time in Florida. He
bore a strong resemblance to the males in my father's family. I heard it said that in his bachelor days he dated only beauties, not bad
in a family where popularity with women was rare.
* Margaret married but had no children.
* Elizabeth married a man named Quirk, but she died very young. She had two children, Joseph, a high-ranking Air Force officer with seven
children, and Elizabeth (called Betty), who married a man named Griffin. Betty had three or four children and lived in Montgomery County,
Maryland. I met her on a number of occasions, usually in visiting |Mary Tobin in her final days. I first met her at a church meeting when
she came up to tell me that her mother's maiden name was Tobin. We quickly established that we were cousins.
c) Ellen Tobin
Ellen Tobin married a man named Devereaux and lived in Seattle. Mary Tobin described her as handsome but did not mention whether there were
d) William Tobin
William Tobin moved to Minneapolis following his brother Mike. He had at least two children: Minnie Tobin and Nellie Tobin. Mary remembered
Minnie as the nicer of the two and as the mother of two children. Nellie had a son who was killed.
e) John and James Tobin
Not much is known about these two. James was mortally injured working for his brother Mike in a logging camp. It is believed that John
stayed on the Tobin land near Ottawa and had a large family. Once in the 1940's, my father, on a visit to Canada, fortuitously encountered
one of John's descendants, confirming Mary's recollection.
The First Generation
Paternal Grandparents - Michael and Catherine Tobin
Michael Tobin, like most of his family, emigrated from Canada to the Untied States. Michael went to Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, where he met and married
Catherine Donahue in 1877. They had a long and apparently happy marriage despite the fact that my grandfather was away from home for
prolonged periods of time. The celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in Mountain Home, Idaho, USA in 1927. Below is a copy of the
invitation and their photographs.
I know very little about Catherine Donahue. When my grandfather died in 1932, she moved to Connecticut to be near my father and her other
children who lived in New York and Connecticut. I remember going with my parents to visit her in some old mansion which I guess was a
residence for old people. I can't remember much about her except that she was gray, wrinkled and a little childish. Apparently, she hid
My father told me that she came from Boston and that on her mother's side was descended from Michael Copley, the famous New England
painter for whom Copley Square in Boston is named. In fact, there is a Michael Copley listed in the family Bible.
At some point she moved to Minneapolis. I know she had a brother and one or two sisters in Minneapolis; so perhaps the whole family
migrated. The family Bible contains references to Donahues and Lawrences who were related to my grandmother and lived in Minneapolis.
I believe she had a sister (perhaps it was an aunt) who was a nun and who made quite an impression on my father because she was
imperious and eccentric.
Since my grandfather was always off in logging camps and railroad camps, my father didn't see much of his father and was very fond of
his mother who had to fend for herself and her eight children (my father was the seventh). My father remembers the family home in
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA where he spent his first 10 years or so. It was on Emerson Street near the Lake District, now a posh residential area,
but then a largely unsettled area where my father caught frogs. I once rode by the house, which didn't appear to have changed too
much, at least externally. My father remembered that there was a livery stable in back of the house, and sure enough the stable was
still there, although not, I presume, being used for animals. My father said the stench from horse manure around the city got pretty
bad in the summer. Below is a picture of the Tobin home taken around 1900. I believe that the small boy sitting on the stairs is my
Uncle Bert and that the boy with the cap is my father.
Sometime in the early 1900s my grandmother started following my grandfather on his western treks. I suppose the kids were old enough
to permit this. She dearly loved old Mike, who, from all accounts, was not the most responsible guy in the world and much more of a
promoter than a worker. Sometimes, they might have a nice house, as when they lived in Hamilton, Montana, when Mike was contracting
on the irrigation systems in the Bitter Root Valley below Missoula. Other times he'd be broke. My father recalls living in a town in
Eastern Washington where they spent the winter in a tent with wooden sides. My grandmother just accepted what came along, and although
she had no illusions about her husband, she continued to adore him. When she was near death, she asked my father if Mike would be
able to locate her since he died on the West Coast, fare from her death site in Connecticut. She finally decided that he'd have no
trouble because he had always traveled so much.
My grandfather's career, if not successful, was certainly interesting. He arrived in Minneapolis with a small stake from his father
and never really liked the idea of working for anyone else. He was a teamster but soon hired men to drive his teams and rented them
out. This, I think, is how he got into railroad contracting. With his little employee group, he got a subcontract for a few miles on
the Great Northern from Big Jim Hill and probably made a little money. At one time he owned a building in Minneapolis, appropriately
named the Tobin Building. He also subcontracted on the Canadian Pacific Railroad somewhere, I think, in Alberta Province because
that is where he had a logging camp from which railroad ties were made. His brother Jim was killed in a log jam in that camp, and
my father told some wild stories about being an errand boy in the frigid bunk houses where the min lived (his older brothers called
him Oscar and the me picked this up).
My grandfather always had partners with whom he feuded constantly. My father said he loved to sue people, although he never won. He
was not a "hands on" manager and had a habit of absenting himself from work sites when there were problems. When my Uncle Frank (his
first name was Richard) reached his mid-teens, he became sore of a foreman in the camps and had to grow up fast. My father remembers
one time when my grandfather didn't meet the payroll, and Frank had to deal with a wild group of immigrant workers. My father claimed
that Frank never had a chance for education, normal social life or religious formation because he was plunged prematurely into the
rough life of the railroad camps.
My father said that his father was called Sagebrush Mike Tobin. The nickname derived from the fact that he was obligated to supply
fuel to the workers and chose to give them cheap and plentiful sagebrush rather than wood. My father was not consumed with respect
for his father, whom he regarded as feckless and lazy.
Actually, he didn't get to know his father until he was in his late teens and early twenties. To illustrate this point, he said that
his father came to meet him at the railroad terminal when he was nine or 10 and had a hard time identifying him.
Just before my father came East in the early 1920s, he lived with his parents on a farm in the Snake River Valley near Mountain Home,
Idaho. My father was in charge of the farm and recalls that his father, then in his 70s, was an amazingly strong man but always
managed to avoid hard work, as did my father's brother Gene who was sort of a guest. My father recalls that in this general period
his father decided to homestead some land in Canada (I don't think Mike ever became an American citizen). My father went with him on
a long trip through some forests, only to discover that some Indians were on the land.
One interesting recollection of my was his puzzlement that his parents did not seem to worry too much about whether their children
went to Mass or received the sacraments. Yet, he remembered them as personally devout. My father, once the family left Minneapolis
when he was about 10 or less, rarely lived among Catholics and spent a lot of time getting into fights with kids who were brought
up to hate Catholics. Sometimes, there was no Catholic church around, so that the family relied on Jesuit missionaries. My father
received little doctrinal formation and was not confirmed until he was 21.
My grandfather didn't speak much about his own family, and my father didn't know much about them. Mary Tobin told me some stories
about old Mike which indicated that he didn't yearn for his family. Once, when he was quite advanced in years, he came to visit his
brother Martin, Mary's father, whom he hadn't seen in decades. Everyone assumed that they'd have a long meeting because my grandfather
had made a long trip for the reunion, but Mike hardly said "hello" before he left. The only tangible result of the meeting was that
Mike was so impressed with Martin's dentures that he rushed out to get some of his own, removing several good teeth in the process.
It is also said that Mike went to visit two younger brothers in Canada after years of separation but left without seeing them because
they were late in coming to town.
Michael was stuck down by a car (some say a trolley) when he was about 84. He died of gangrene as a result of the accident, and his
children gathered. As far as I know, this was the only time all eight convened as adults. Recognizing the historic nature of the
occasion, they hired a photographer to take a group picture. This picture is around somewhere and should be in this history. I remember
seeing it and being impressed by the formality of poses. My father complained that his sister Mary chose the one shot which favored
her. This typically Tobin comment characterized the strongly abrasive nature of Tobin family relations, but for all this, they always
looked out materially for their weaker members and were generous in that sense.
For some reason, old Mike expressed a deathbed desire to see his oldest brother Richard then in his late 90s. My father learned this
from Richard's son whom he called about his father's death, only to find out that the two old men had died a day apart. Mike, like
most Tobin males, died with the last rites and viaticum. He was unconscious toward the end but came out of it once and commented that
he remembered receiving Communion.
Peggy Tobin Edsall
Back to Bytown or Bust - History and Genealogy in the Ottawa area