Author of Letter: Noah C Draper, 30 yrs old
Dated: March 28 / 17
Mailed from: H.M.S. Bacchante
Attached to: HMS Bacchante
Profession: Farmer, Temporary Sailor
Rank: Ordinary Seaman, Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve
Addressed to: Mrs. N.C. Draper
Writing instrument: Fountain Pen with Black Ink
Writing Paper: 1 sheet 9" x 6" medium weight, smooth, linen-look, folded into a 4-page booklet form with the inside page written across the short width and then down the length like foolscap. The pages are not numbered.
People mentioned in this letter:
Ethel* - Ethel Isabel Draper, 27 yrs old, Noah's wife of 6 yrs
Alice* Prosser - daughter of Ethel's sister Sadie and Cecil Prosser
George & Eliza - Noah's cousin George Draper & wife Eliza Hamilton
Charlie**: Noah's cousin Charles* Joel Draper & Gertrude Canniff
Mildred* aka Midge* - Noah and Ethel's eldest - born Sep 1913
Places/things mentioned in this letter:
Coast of Africa
Word or Phrase Use:
- 's - While posting these Courtship and WW1 letters, I have discovered that it was customary at the time to add an apostrophe and s ('s) at the end of a name to include the family. So when Noah asks about Charlie's, he's really asking how Charlie and his family are getting along.
* Look under the Categories/Labels in the right side column for more posts on this
person/place/thing, or use the search box in the header at the top of this page
** see History Notes below
Mrs. N.C. Draper,
Well we are in port
again after 11 days trip
along the coast of Africa I
can not tell you where
but will not be here I
guess when you getthis,
it is some change from
Canada & I have been
bare footed for 3 or 4 days
& am getting so I like it.
Have not been ashore
yet. but hope to go before
we leave as I would like to see a
little of each country we touch
I hope you are all well as this leaves
me at present, how is Alice getting
along I hope she is better before
this. I suppose Cecil & Sadie
have moved by this. & also
George & Eliza have gone West?
How is Charlie's getting along
& how do they like the Canadian
winter? I have not written to
him yet but will send him
Well I see they have the German
troops on the move if they can
only keep them going it will
be worth while, eh. Hope the
U.S. soon makes up their mind
to come in & do a little bit for
the sake of humanity. you often
hear them spoken of among
the sailors as cowards whitch
we know is not so although it
does look as if they are
to proud to fight on
anything but paper.
Well I will be glad
when a mail boat
comes here as it will
shurely have some
mail for me, have not
had a letter for over
3 weeks, but we will
get used to that I guess.
Well I guess I will
close for this time
Tell Mildred I would
like to see her calf but
guess I will have to wait
a while. Bye Bye. Love & XX N.C.
There is one History note for this letter of March 28, 1917
History Note 1 - Charlie Draper
Noah has once again mentioned Charlie in this letter: "How is Charlie's getting along & how do they like the Canadian winter? I have not written to him yet but will send him a card."
So when did Charlie return to Canada?
Charlie is Charles Joel Draper, eldest son of Stephen Draper and Martha Barnhart whom we explored in the last letter.
Charlie was born about 1873 and moved down to Texas sometime after the 1891 Canada census. Although I can't find him on the 1900 U.S. census, nor the 1901 Canada census, the local newspaper that serves the Keswick area shared this tidbit in 1901 about Charlie gifting Stephen with a cowboy hat.
On Christmas Day, Dec 25, 1902, Charlie married Gertie Loretta Canniff, a New Yorker living in the Houston area. The License clipping on the right is the only announcement I've found of their marriage.
Charlie shows up in the 1903, 1905, and 1907 Houston city directories as a painting contractor.
The 1910 U.S. census shows Charles Draper, Painting Contractor, married to Gertrude, and residing in Harris County, Texas. Their household shows 2 children: Clyde S 6 yrs, and Charles J Jr one month. And although the census record shows Charlie as being born in the US, it's not an error to be concerned about since a neighbour might have volunteered the info when the census taker came along.
And then I found a Border Crossing Manifest for a CJ and Gertrude Draper crossing from the US to Canada on April 15, 1916. The couple were coming from Texas with a destination of Keswick, Ontario. But there weren't any children travelling with them, and although their birth dates were close enough, the manifest stated that CJ Draper was an American born in the US.
That's interesting because a birth record for him hasn't shown up on any searches or family trees. Yet.
However, it was enough to confirm that Charlie and Gertie moved back to Keswick the spring of 1916.
When Stephen Draper died in February 1919 his obituary stated that Charles J is on the old homestead. (see clipping on right) That confirmed that Charlie and Gertie are living with his mom at Cedar View Farm.
In the March 15, 1918 issue of the Newmarket Era, an article caught my eye because of the title, Houston Woman as Steamboat Pilot.
I was interested in the facts since I was researching female steamboat pilots at the time, but the final paragraph totally surprised me as it came out of the blue..."Mrs. Griffin is a sister of Mrs. C. J. Draper of "Cedar View Farm" at Keswick, Ont."
More research not only confirmed that Gertie's sister Maud E Conniff married George C Griffin, owner of a Houston sand and gravel business, but that Maud and George were married on that same Christmas Day of Dec. 25, 1902 as Gertie and Charlie.
Interestingly, another tangible piece of evidence we have that Charlie and Gertie Draper were now living in Canada is from the Newmarket Era who printed a series of letters received from families of local boys serving overseas. A letter from Fred Hepple was published on Feb 22, 1918 and is too long to display here, but it goes like this:
The following letter was received by Mrs. C. J. Draper of Keswick:
Jan. 1st, 1918
Somewhere in France
My dear mother, and Mrs Chas. Draper, and all at home...
...I must not forget to thank Charlie and wife for contents of parcel, although I have never seen them and hold them as dear as you, and am waiting for that glorious day when I can have a good chat with Charlie."
It is signed, "Your boy, Fred Hepple."
I can only assume that the Hepples and Drapers are close friends in Keswick and that Fred was very young when Charlie, the oldest of Stephen and Martha's children, moved to the US. This would also explain why Fred mentions George and Eliza, Charlie, Stuart/Stewart, and Edith in his letters. (see WW1 Letters Home Mar 22, 1918 for more info on the family)
On the right, I'm posting a clipping of the second letter from Fred Hepple which was published in the Newmarket Era on Aug 23, 1918. In this letter, Fred is in Germany and in the final paragraph we find that he's sending his letters to the Draper family to be read to his own mom.
On April 3, 1919, following Stephen Draper's death, Ontario Land Records show that Cedar View Farm on Lot 3 of the 4th Concession at Keswick was left to Martha and the children they'd had together, with Charlie being considered the head of the family. The record also shows that in February 1924, Charlie paid off his siblings. The legal work was finalized on May 1, 1924 with the notation that George, Stewart, Almeda, and Edith had quit their claim...and Charlie was home to stay.
So how were the Charlie's getting along with our Canadian winter? I'll let you know when I find out.