Vernon & District Family History Society

SHARING GENEALOGY KNOWLEDGE SINCE 1982

The Hatfield Family by Bob Passmore

The Hatfield family were Pioneers of the North Okanagan. The first to settle in the area was my Grand Uncle Richard Hatfield in 1895. He is the person responsible for my Grandfather Hatfield and his family moving to Vernon in 1907.

Uncle Richard Hatfield was christened on February 12, 1860 at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Danehill, Sussex. His birth was registered at Uckfield, October to December 1859. He appears on the 1861 census with his mother and grandmother at Danehill, Sussex. On the 1871 census he is still with his family at Danehill. He is shown as a bricklayer's laborer at Hove, Sussex on the 1881 census living as a boarder withthe Richard Gillam family at #22 Goldstone Rd.

He married Alice Preston on October 10, 1886 at St. John's Church, Tunbridge Wells, Kent. The marriage certificate shows Richard age 26, labourer, son of Richard Hatfield a shepherd. It was witnessed by his brother John and sister Alice MaryHatfield. In May of 1889, Richard, Alice and their two sons immigrated to Canada and lived in Toronto. The family appears on the 1891 census as follows: Richard Hatfield, age 31, a laborer and Alice, age 28 at Hackney Street, Toronto West, Ontario with their two children born in England; Richard J., age 5, and Charles, age 2, along with Alice Mary, 6 months, born in Ontario.

I have not been able to ascertain what happened to Richard's wife Alice. Their two sons are back in England on the 1901 census but I have not been able to find any record of Alice. Perhaps she died and Richard may have sent the two boys back to England. Whatever happened he decided to stay in Canada and look for work out west.

Upon moving out west he likely lived in work camps while working on the CPR Railway from sometime after 1891 until about 1895.

According to his niece Marjory Hatfield, he first worked on the Crows Nest Pass section and then the Kaslo-Slocan line. About 1895 he got on his horse and traveled down the Arrow Lakes from Kaslo to the Needles ferry crossing where a rope ferry transported him to Needles. His horse had to swim behind, tethered to the ferry because a wagon was already loaded on the ferry and there was not enough room for the horses. He then proceeded over the Monashee Pass to Vernon, where he ended up working for the Coldstream Ranch for about six years. He was a hard rock driller and blaster and worked on railroad and highway construction in the area when such work was available.

Richard is on the 1901 Census for Vernon B.C., Rural. He is shown as a single male living at the Coldstream Ranch as a farm labourer, who immigrated to Canada from England in May of 1888, Religion- Church of England and earning $300 over the last 12 months. The date 1888 is likely incorrect as his son Charles was born in England in October of 1888. The correct date is probably May of 1889.

Image - Falkland Homestead

Falkland Homestead

According to the Western Land Grants on May 1 1905, Richard Hatfield was granted the S.E. Quarter of Sec. 22in 17th Twp., 11th Range, west of the 6th meridian in British Columbia for $160.00. This is at the end of Colebank Road on the Salmon River about 7 miles south of Falkland. Colebank Road starts at Cedar Hill Road about 300 yards from Highway 97 and is about a mile long, ending at what is likely Richard's original log cabin. He used as an address "Seven Mile Creek, Falkland". I found an old abandoned cabin on this site that is likely his.

Richard's son Charles, a labourer from Salmon River, was admitted to the Jubilee Hospital in Vernon on November 11, 1911 suffering from endocarditis (acute inflammation of the outer heart). He passed away November 12, 1911. The entry shows that the cost of $1.50 was paid by his father Richard Hatfield. Dr. Williams was the attending Doctor. He was buried at the Pleasant Valley Cemetery, Vernon, B.C. on November 13, 1911 at Block 12, Lot 13 with no head stone, at a cost of $5.00.

In 1906 Richard sent for his married brother Ambrose Hatfield who was still in England and he and his family immigrated to Vernon in 1907. Richard met them at the railway station in Vernon and took them to a house that he had rented for them on Price Street. After settling in Vernon they suggested that Emily's sister, Matilda, who was still in England, should also move to Vernon. Matilda arrived in Canada on November 11, 1911. Matilda Brown and Richard Hatfield were married at All Saints Anglican Church in Vernon on April 12, 1912. This means that the two Hatfield brothers married the two Brown sisters. On the Marriage Registration of Richard and Matilda, he is shown as a widower.

When Richard's future wife Matilda Brown arrived in Vernon in 1911, she worked in the bunkhouse of Price Ellison's orchard above Swan Lake where she was maid and cook. Richard may have worked in the orchard as well but I believe he lived most of the time at his Homestead at the Salmon River near Falkland.

Image - Richard and Tilly Hatfield

Richard and Tilly Hatfield

By early 1913 Matilda had settled into the homestead with Richard near Falkland where they raised sheep and grew mixed veggies. He worked most of the time as driller and blaster at the Gypsum Mine in Falkland. They moved into Falkland and bought a little old shingle covered house two blocks off the highway. A mantle clock was given to the couple as a wedding present by Price Ellison It was then handed down to Emily Hatfield, then to my mother Mae Passmore and then to me. It sits proudly on our china cabinet.

Richard died April 24, 1940 at Salmon Arm; the cause being Chronic Myocarditis, his trade at the time is listed as a Gardener.

My Grandfather, Ambrose Hatfield was christened at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church at Danehill, Sussex, England on October 13, 1869. His birth was registered October to December 1869 at Uckfield. On the 1871 census he is shown as age 1, living with his family at Chelwood Common near Danehill, Sussex. He was listed as age 11 with his family on the 1881 census for Fletching Sussex at Danehill. The address was "cottage". He is shown as a Scholar. This area was later known as Chelwood Common.

On the 1891 census for Chelwood Common, Danehill, Ambrose, age 21, and his brother Joseph, age 13, are living with their mother, Harriett, and her new husband, Jethro Turner. Ambrose worked on the London-Brighton Railroad that passes a few miles from his parent's home. On December 24, 1899 Ambrose married Emily Ann Brown at St. Savior's Church, Croydon where they lived until immigrating to Canada in 1907.

Emily Anne Brown was born May 20, 1872 at Woodside Green, Little Hallingbury, Essex, England. Her father, Alexander Brown, was the Squire of the Manor in charge of the stables at Baron Lushington's estate across the river in Herts County.

Emily was living with her grandfather, Alexander Brown, in Netteswell, Essex in the 1881 Census. Her sister, Matilda, was living with their father and stepmother in Greater Hallingbury, Essex. Emily worked as a domestic servant at various locations and must have ended up working at Croydon where she met Ambrose Hatfield.

Image - Rear: Marjorie, Jack and Mae Front: Emily, Cathy and Richard, 1916

Marjorie, Jack and Mae Front: Emily, Cathy and Richard, 1916

On the 1901 census Ambrose, Emily and son Arthur Jack, age 4 months, are shown in Croydon CB. He is shown as a railway labourer. Their address was # 71 Ecclesbourne Rd., East Croydon, Surrey, England. The Parish is St. Saviors in Croydon.

My wife and I found their house in 1990 when we were visiting our cousins Allen and Rose Brown in England. All other houses in the entire area, except for a few on their Street are Post War design. This house is an old Victorian style and we took a picture of it. During the World War II my father, Ernie Passmore, was, for a while, stationed at Croydon with the Ack Ack during the Battle of Britain. One night in 1941 there was a particularly heavy air raid on Croydon and I was home alone in Vernon with my mother listening to the CBC news report about this raid. When "The Voice of Doom", Lorne Green said that a large portion of Croydon had been destroyed, tears came to my mother's eyes and she said that she hoped Ernie was OK and that their house in Croydon was not destroyed. I thought of this when we found the house in 1990.

According to notes taken down during a discussion with my Aunt Marjory (Hatfield) Allen, Ambrose and Emily came by ship from England in 1907 to Quebec and then by train to Vernon. The name of the ship was the S.S. Parisian of the Allan Line. It docked at Montreal, June 21, 1907 from Liverpool, England. The ships passenger list shows the family on page 15 in steerage. It lists them as Ambrose 39, Emily 35, Arthur 6, Mary 5 and Marjory 3, with their destination shown as Vernon, B.C. Ambrose's first house was on Price Street (now 27th Ave.). In 1919 and 1922 they lived at 108 Schubert St., Vernon, now the site of the Salvation Army.

Image - Okanagan Hotel Vernon

 Okanagan Hotel Vernon

In 1909, while living on Price Street the Okanagan Hotel burned down. Their house was only a couple of blocks away and burning embers were falling all around the house. Grandpa and his neighbours trained their garden hoses on their roofs to prevent their houses from catching fire. This resulted in reducing the pressure on the water lines and the firefighters at the hotel had difficulty getting enough water to fight the fire. My mother told me that the heat from the fire was so intense that they couldn't stand across the street from the burning hotel.

Image - Funeral Procession Okanagan Hotel Fire

 Funeral Procession Okanagan Hotel Fire

A picture of the funeral procession for victims of the fire was featured in the Vernon News and a copy of the picture is in my scrap book. The people in the foreground are my grandmother Emily with my Aunt Marjorie and my mother Mary (Mae) along with a friend of the family, Emma Roberts.

Ambrose and his brother Richard Hatfield were both experienced railroad workers and were frequently called upon to blast rocks for railway and road right-of-ways in the North Okanagan. In 1910 and 1911 they worked drilling and blasting granite at the rock quarry on Okanagan Lake for the construction of the new Vernon Court House. I interviewed Aunt Marjory regarding her memories of the work performed by the Hatfield brothers who were part of the crew on this project. She recalled that they utilized a barge equipped with railway tracks upon which open flat cars were hauled onto the railway tracks. The barge was then anchored off shore at the rock quarry on Okanagan Lake just past Otter Point, now Ellison Park. A large steam shovel lifted the blasted granite blocks onto the flat cars from the quarry. The barge was then towed to Okanagan Landing where an engine would hook onto the flat cars and haul them to the station in Vernon. From there a crew of Scottish stone masons shaped the granite blocks and installed them onto the Court House Building.

Image - Courthouse Vernon under construction, 1911

Courthouse Vernon under construction, 1911

On October 15, 1916 Ambrose was admitted to the Vernon Hospital for pneumonia and is listed as being in the Army with # 143 Btn. age 45, Forester. Ambrose enlisted in Vernon on February 26, 1916. Apparently he lied about his age as the record shows his birth date October 13, 1871 at Danehill, England. He showed his trade as road foreman. He was 5 ft 1/4 in, with blue eyes and brown hair. He was posted with the Rocky Mountain Rangers, Regimental No. 687835, Rank Sapperand went overseas with the B.C. Bantams 102 Btn. because he was only 5 ft. tall. When the Army discovered that he worked on the railroad both in Canada and in England on the London to Brighton line, he was transferred to the Railway Battalion, building railways and buckboards to the front lines.

Image - Ambrose Hatfield with WWI Volunteers at Polson Park Bandstand, February 1916

Ambrose Hatfield with WWI Volunteers at Polson Park Bandstand, February 1916

The cause of death on Ambrose's death certificate was Cardiac Asthma, Hypertension. He is shown as a railway worker. Cause of death according to family was Gas Asthma incurred in France in WW I, where he was buried alive in a shell hole during a gas attack. A companion who was killed in this attack had his arm above ground and they found Ambrose when they dug his friend up. Air was getting to Ambrose down the space between his dead friend's arm and the debris. His World War I Diary, in my possession, mentions many of his wartime experiences and bears frequent reference to "Fritz", his name for all German soldiers. The months between July and September 1917 when he was near Arras and Lens contain no entries. This is likely when he was wounded. He was granted leave after receiving medical clearance and left for England on February 28 1918. The diary also includes notes about his leave in England in March of 1918 while recovering from his wounds where he visited his sisters, Alice at Aylesford and Harriett at Chelwood Common near Forest Row Sussex.

Image - Richard, Tilly, Emily and Ambrose Hatfield

Richard, Tilly, Emily and Ambrose Hatfield

Ambrose returned to active service in France in April of 1918. His diary only mentions places where he stayed or passed through from then until the end of the War in November. He returned to England from France via La Harve on January 10, 1919 and was in various camps until he was sent to Liverpool where he embarked on the RMS Celtic March 10. On the ship's manifest he is shown as being in reserve unit 4th and original unit 152nd. He arrived at Halifax on March 18 and finally arrived home on March 25, 1919.

Ambrose worked at various highway construction jobs around Vernon and on the construction of the CNR railway from Vernon to Kelowna during 1920/21. In the mid 1990's I talked with Mr. Klausman who had been a foreman at the Fruit Union in Vernon. He remembered Ambrose and his brother Richard (he called them Amby and Dickie) when they passed the Fruit Union on their way to work on the CNR. They travelled on the CNR tracks on a "speeder" that was propelled by pumping levers up and down. The two of them were only 5 ft. tall and one would be lifted off his feetwhen the other pumped his lever down. The Fruit Union crew would come out to the siding and have a good laugh when the Hatfield brothers went by on the speeder. They worked together as hard rock drillers and blasters. Ambrose would hold the drilling rod while Richard pounded it down into the rock. Richard would then set the charge.

Early in the 1930's Ambrose, Emily and Cathy moved to Vancouver where Ambrose could receive treatment for the gas asthma incurred during the war. About 1934 his daughter, Mae, and her youngest son, Robert, came out by train from Moose Jaw to visit them in Vancouver. Within two years Ambrose passed away due to the gas asthma.

When Emily's husband, Ambrose, died in 1936 she stayed with her youngest daughter Cathy Klien and her family in Vancouver. She later spent time with her other daughters in Vernon and Summerland as well. When my father Ernie Passmore joined the army and went overseas, she spent most of her time in Vernon with our family. She helped with meals and cleaning when mother worked at Dolphe Brown's packing house. I was never impressed with her ability as a cook! She wanted to boil everything, including pheasants and ducks that I shot. She liked kippered herring but the smell of them cooking almost made me sick. After the war she moved to Falkland and lived with her sister Matilda. Matilda's husband, Richard Hatfield, had died in 1940. When Matilda died in 1954, she left her Falkland house to Emily who rented it out. This provided a little income for Emily. Emily spent most of her time in Vernon with our family from 1955 until her death in 1965. The Falkland house was left by Emily to my mother Mae when Emily died in 1965. It was sold for a small amount.

Granny Hatfield spent a lot of time hooking rugs and crocheting table clothes and doilies. Most of her grandchildren were presented with large pineapple tablecloths crocheted by her as wedding presents. My sister Velma has used her table cloth to decorate her daughter's wedding cake tables and, more recently, her granddaughter's wedding cake tables. The most recent, was Emily's Great Granddaughter Corrine McCoy's wedding at Nanaimo in 1997, 53 years after Velma's wedding. Marj and I were also given one of Granny's hand crocheted pineapple tablecloths for our wedding reception and it was featured at our children's wedding receptions and at our 50th anniversary celebration.

Image - Granny Hatfield with pineapple tablecloth

Granny Hatfield with pineapple tablecloth

Although there is no one left in the Okanagan with the Hatfield name their legacy lives on through Mae Hat-field Passmore.