My paternal great grandpa dropped dead of a heart attack in Toronto, Ontario on the 12th of October 1905 at the age of 51. Thomas John Gallagher was survived by his widow, Margaret Ann (nee Marron), and six children: Mary (Minnie) and her husband Francis Henry McCurry, Anne and her husband Joseph Cruse, Catherine (Kate), Thomas John, Francis and Norman (all at home). He was predeceased by sons Joseph (1885) and James Henry (1893) and daughter Margaret (1904).
To help prove (or disprove) a family story about Thomas John’s ownership of properties in Toronto, I made a trip to the Archives of Ontario and found his estate file on microfilm (Archives of Ontario, MS 584, Reel 1785, file #18268).
Thomas John did indeed own four properties on Duchess St (now Richmond St) as well as a vacant lot on Jemima Ave (this street no longer exists). Although his occupation in city directories and Canadian censuses had variously been indicated as labourer, carter and Teamster, his occupation at the time of his death is noted as ‘contractor’. This lends credence to another family story that Thomas John worked for the City of Toronto hauling trash with his horses and carts. In his estate valuation are included $550 worth of horses and wagons. Further proof of his position as contractor is evidence of a bond issued by the United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company of Baltimore, Maryland in the amount of $7,340 that also appears in his estate file.
Fidelity bonds are also known as “honesty bonds” and “employee dishonesty insurance”. They were issued to protect corporations from “losses due to fraudulent trading, theft or forgery”.
I have found mention of this type of US Fidelity bond being issued to an employee of the Town of Arnprior, Ontario in 1904.
In signing the US Fidelity bond document, my widowed great grandmother was basically taking on responsibility for any future liability that might arise due to her husband’s business activities during his lifetime.
It was interesting to see that my great grandmother was illiterate in 1905 (all documents are signed with her mark). Her two oldest daughters, however, could read and write. They consented to letters of administration being granted to their mother.
Thomas John Gallagher’s estate was divided up between his heirs as follows:
Everything I’ve found out about great grandpa shows that he had a pretty tough life. His mom died when he was only 15 years old and his father passed away four years later. At the age of 19, Thomas John was left with the responsibility of three younger sisters and then he had nine children of his own. He never stopped working, though, and did his best to improve the lives of everyone in his family. This legacy of hard work and close family ties lived on … in my next post, I’ll present the estate documents for his widow, Margaret Ann (Marron) Gallagher which show a definite improvement in our family’s situation.