Saturday, November 20, 2010

Biography: Alexander Fraser



BACK ROW: Mary Schwartz, Gerald, William, Alexander, Mary , Margaret & Frank

FRONT ROW: Wilfred, William, Joseph, John, Agnes & Charles

Alexander, the fifth child of William and Johanna Fraser, was rumoured to have been born on board the ship that brought the family from Scotland to Canada in 1873, at least there is a family story to that effect. However, newly discovered documents firmly place his birth in Portree, on the Isle of Skye, in 1872, the year before the family immigrated to Canada. In any case, no matter where he was born, once launched, Alexander was a man on the move. After finishing his schooling in Toronto Canada, he became a stone mason who traveled extensively, following job opportunities around Canada and the northern United States. The smoke stacks that once graced the plant on the front of the Shredded Wheat box, were built by him.

Alexander married Ellen Hallett (youngest daughter of Samuel Hallett) in Toronto and together they had eleven children: Wilfred Alphonsas (who later married Esther but had no children), Mary Ann (married Russell Newton and had one child), Anne (who died after only 4 days), John Andrew (who married twice, had one child and lived in New Mexico), Alex Benedict (who died suddenly in his 20's after marching in a Parade), and Charles Anthony (married Josephine Thacker and was father of 3 children). All were born in Toronto. Alexander and Ellen then moved to Niagara Falls where they had: Agnes Mildred (married William Martin and mother of two children, one of whom is Ellen Mae Murphy who supplied much of this information) and Joseph David (married Kathryn Payne and had one child). Alexander and Ellen then moved to Pittsburgh where they had Margaret (who became a nun), William Leo (married Alice Schulz and father of 9 children who have live in various places through the United States) and Francis (who lived only a day).

Ellen died at 33 years of age. Alexander's sister Mary Ann (who was already caring for his older sister Isobella's three children after her death just 4 years previous) stepped in to assist with the children. With work scarce, and having many mouths to feed, Alex followed the job market to Chicago where he eventually met and married Mary Fitzgerald. Alex had not told Mary that he had been married and was father of nine living children. Wracked with guilt, when he found work away in Winnipeg he took the opportunity of distance to write to her fully disclosing his past. Mary had him immediately come home and together they caught the first train to Toronto where they gathered all the children and took them back to Chicago with them.

Mary eventually added Francis (a Catholic Priest) and Gerald (a Catholic Priest) to the family.

Alexander's brother Charles, following the break up of his marriage, followed Alex to Chicago and also lived with the family. Alexander eventually became a General Contractor building many buildings in the Chicago area. Charles was a laborour who helped him on many of those projects.

Alexander died April 5, 1953 and Mary in 1965.