John TOBIN and Bridget COLEMAN
Lot 19, Concession 5, Osgoode Township, Ontario, Canada
Painting by Ruth McMillan in 1976
Shows the Head of the Rideau Canal Locks in Ottawa, Canada in 1893
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 Allan 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 A
rmy 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
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
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 Ireland.
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
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
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 any children.
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, s
he hid things.
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
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
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