Samuel Newell was born in 1815 in Ireland and immigrated from there around 1828, coming first to the United States and then to the New Glasgow, Terrebonne, Quebec area of Canada. Nothing is known to date about his first wife. His second wife, Agnes Smiley, whom he married in 1845 was also of Irish parentage. Her father and Mother were Stewart Smiley, born 1795 in Ireland and Mary McIntyre born 1798 in Ireland. Stewart and Mary were living in the St Lin, Montcalm, Quebec area in 1831.
Samuel and Agnes had ten children, all born in New Glasgow, Terrebone County, Quebec. New Glasbow is a small village located at the end of a valley in the lower Laurentian Mountains. On either side of a beautiful river flowing through the valley are a few active farms today and the remnants of others. The area now (1997), however, is rapidly becoming a playground for the residents of Montreal, 30 miles or so to the south. Samuel and Agnes' life together began somewhere in this valley in a log cabin in 1845. By 1861 they were living in a frame house in the same area and probably the same location. They were still there in 1871, but by 1880 had migrated to North Dakota. This is rather amazing since Samuel was then 65. He homesteaded in North Dakota and farmed there well into his seventies. A very tough individual indeed.
According to census data Samuel, Agnes, Samuel Jr and Joseph migrated to North Dakota in 1880. Benjamin and William followed in 1884. Except for Mary Jane and Eliza Ann, the daughters follow . Eva and Catherine followed their parents in 1882 and Agnes in 1885. Eliza ann died in Quebec in 1882 and Mary Jane married Samuel Marlin about 1870 in Quebec. She remained there until sometime prior to 1881 when the family moved to North Township, Compton, Quebec area. Mary Jane died in 1899.
The homestead act of 1862 allowed any citizen, or an immigrant whose intention was to become a citizen, to settle on any surveyed but unclaimed land, improve it, live on it for five years and thus gain clear title to it. A settler could preempt the land after six months residence by purchasing it at $1.25 per acre. Samuel, Samuel Jr and William all homesteaded at various times. Samuel Sr homesteaded in Joliette Township (Twp), Samuel Jr in Twp 161, William in Park Twp. Benjamin was in the insurance business and lived in Crystal City. Agnes and Sarah married Thomas and John Miller respectively and lived and farmed in Walsh County, ND.
In 1881 Catherine was living and working in a hotel in Emerson, Manatoba, Canada (1881 Canadian Census) She married George Swain in 1890. The 1900 Census finds them living in Avon Township, Pembina County, operating a general merchandise store there. In 1903 they built a large general merchandise store in Webster, Ramsey Co., ND. It was located on the north side of Main Street in the Village. When telephone service came to Webster the telephone office was located in the back of Swain's Store. George Swain died in 1906 at age 45. Catherine and family continued to operate the "Swain Cash Store" for several more years. She died in 1923 and was laid to rest beside George in Webster Presbyterian Church Cemetery.
GGrandfather Samuel farmed well into his seventies in Joliette Twp (map) after which he retired to Hensel (Canton) until his death about 1902. Agnes lived on with her daughters in Grafton, ND until her death in 1907. Samuel Jr filed on 160 acres in Twp 161 but later lost the property to a loan company and lived with Samuel and Agnes in Hensel. After his parents deaths he lived with his sisters and did odd jobs until his death in 1912 in Webster, ND.
William filed on 160 acres in Park Twp (map) in 1888 and his wife Elizabeth filed on 160 acres under the Timber Culture Act in 1898. This act allowed settlers an additional 160 acres if they planted 10 acres to trees. Fifty acres on the East Coast could comfortably sustain a family in 1888. But 160 acres could not adequately sustain a family in North Dakota. Weather was the primary limiting factor in North Dakota. The late part of the century was drought years and the price of wheat low. Thus, William and Elizabeth needed 320 acres to make a living. In addition, William bought and sold lots in Hensel (Canton) and also became an insurance agent. Newspaper accounts tell of William and Benjamin buying a beautiful black stallion in 1904 which was in great demand for stud. William apparently tired of the struggle in North Dakota and moved his family to Yakima, WA in 1906. He died there in 1931.
In the meantime, Benjamin, after working as a farm hand upon his arrival in 1884, married Elizabeth Miller. The 1900 Census finds them living in Crystal City, where Benjamin had set up an insurance agency. The purchase of the stallion mentioned above occurred in April 1904. In June of that year Benjamin Newell was seriously injured in a horse and buggy accident. He contracted lockjaw and died a week later leaving Elizabeth to raise their 9 children..
Joseph Newell didn't homestead, but rather bought 206.29 acres in sections 1 & 2 in Midland Twp (map), Bowesmont, Dakota Territory in 1890 from the colonial and US Mortgage Co., an English corporation. He bought 180.79 adjacent acres from George Parker, the original patent holder in section 2 of Midland Twp in 1899. Then in 1901 he sold all his holdings to the Garnett Brothers for $5,000. They assumed a mortgage of $2,200 so Joseph cleared $2,800.
In the meantime, Joseph had married Margaret Jane Ellis in 1894. Her father William Ellis had been a miller in Grennock, Bruce, Ontario, Canada but now owned two quarter sections in Park Twp. Joseph and Margaret Jane had three children. The first child died and was buried on the Bowesmont farm at about the time of my mother Frances' birth. The surviving children were Garnett Ellis Newell and Sarah Agnes Newell. My mother related to Leona that when Sarah Agnes was born she was so tiny they used an oatmeal box for a cradle and placed her in the oven. Not being able to nurse she was fed her mother's milk from an eyedropper. My mother was adopted in 1896 by Joseph and Margaret following the death of her mother Margaret.
After selling the farm in Midland Twp, the Joseph Newell family drop from the available records until they turn up homesteading in Sasatchewan in 1904. It is highly probable that Joseph farmed the Ellis property in Park Twp from 1901 until leaving for Saskatchewan. Land records indicate he bought no further property in Pembina County. However, my mother remembers living near Hensel, ND which is near the Ellis farm (map). He might also have farmed William's property which was even nearer to Hensel. However, their whereabouts during this period is conjecture. Perhaps information will come to light later to clarify the matter.
Joseph apparently went north to Saskatchewan in 1904 and built a 16' x 22' log cabin on land that he had homesteaded. It is highly probable, but not a certainty, that he went alone or had someone to help him in his labors the first year, since children would have been at great risk without proper shelter. Joseph may have returned to winter over in ND and then moved the family to their new home the following spring. My mother remembered traveling to Medicine Hat. However, Medicine Hat was several hundred miles from Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Canada, their new home. This is puzzling unless the railroad trip required such a detour or they lived with family members near Medicine hat for a time until their new home was completed.
Joseph Newell died of pneumonia in 1906. From the available records it is apparent that he was concentrating his efforts on establishing a cattle operation. For instance, at the time of his death he had 9 head of cattle. In 1908 Margaret had increased the herd to 22 head. She remained after Joseph's death to "prove" the property and obtain a deed from the government. However, it was obviously just too much for a woman with small children to stay and try to farm in the wilderness. And thus, sometime after 1908, she sold the Saskatchewan farm and followed her father, William Ellis to Delaware with her family. The fact that she could farm there alone for two more years is testament to her determination and fortitude.
The 1910 census finds her and the children at her father's farm in Delaware. Also, the 1910 census shows William and Amanda Gihuly, nephew and niece respectively of William Ellis, living there also. The Gihuleys are mentioned here because my mother talked of Uncle Will and Aunt Amanda Gihuly, but we never knew the relationship until the census cleared it up for us. Margaret Jane Ellis Newell later bought a small farm near Milford, Delaware which she operated with the help of her son Garnett Ellis Newell. The 1920 Census finds her living there with her children. She died in 1923 at age 50 of intestinal tuberculous. A truly remarkable, kind, pioneer woman.