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FLINT Brothers

Marriages and Children

Two months after his father’s death, on 1 Jun 1859, Pirney married Ann, oldest of four Elson sisters. He was 34, she 21. Their first child, a daughter named Charlotte Hannah after Pirney’s mother and grandmother, was born in 1861. The next year a son, named Robert George after Pirney’s father as well as his brother in California, was born. In 1865, Mary Bertha Flint, my grandmother, came along. She was possibly named after her aunt, Pirney’s sister Mary B (Flint) Blinn; however, according to that Mary’s baptismal record in England, her name was Mary Butcher Flint. Five more children followed—Eliza (1866), Anne (“Annie”) (1867), Peter (1870), Frances (“Fanny”) (1872), and Edna Anne (1874)—making six daughters and two sons in all.

In an 1872 letter, Robert teased Pirney about his numerous children—

“. . . I am sorry to hear [our sister] Mary [Blinn]’s health Continue so poor . . . You say your little Mary has been with her for More than a year and you do Not take her away for fear of war in the Camp. it’s a pitty about that, seeing you and Ann has so few to console yourselves with! why, you have only five or six others, whilst Mary is three long Miles away from home! it’s terrible, but thare is No telling what people can go throu gh until they try. . . .”1

On 27 Jun 1874, three weeks after Edna’s birth, her mother, Ann (Elson) Flint, passed away. The cause of death given in her death record is “childbirth”.2 Pirney must have felt unable to deal with a newborn because Edna was raised in the Samuel and Amelia Gibson household. In the 1881 Canadian Census, all his children except Edna and my grandmother Mary were living with Pirney. I was unable to identify Mary (or the Blinns) in the 1881 census, but in the 1891 census, conducted the year after Mary Blinn’s husband William had passed away, the entire household consisted of Mary Blinn and Mary Flint. In the same (1891) census, taken a few weeks before Pirney’s death, Annie, Peter and Fanny were still with him, but Charlotte and R G III had moved to California, and Eliza had died at the age of 17.

On 10 May 1869 North America’s first transcontinental railroad was completed with the driving of a golden spike at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory. Whether Robert G Flint Jr availed himself of this new, easier way of crossing the continent is unknown, but a month later, on 14 June, he was back in Canada, where he married Pirney”s wife’s younger sister, Eliza. He was 53; she was 27.3 Robert returned to California with his new wife, and (I imagine), so that Eliza wouldn’t be lonely so far from home, they were accompanied by the youngest Elson sister, Elizabeth, who was 17. The next year Robert and Eliza’s first child, Hannah Mary (“Minnie”) Flint, named after both her parents’ mothers, was born. Two sons, Robert (“Rob”) and George Buford Flint, followed in 1872 and 1875. There were two more daughters, Elizabeth (“Bessie”), 1875, and Eliza Elson (“Lyle”) Flint, 1880.

Like her sister, Pirney’s wife Ann, Robert‘s wife Eliza died in her 30s. Her death date on the worn gravestone she shares with her husband has been interpreted to read 24 Jul 1877. The problem is, her last child, Lyle, was born in May 1880, according to her gravestone. However, in the 1901 Census of Canada, her birth month is given as March 1877. In a letter, Lyle states that she “was a year & a half when father brought us home from California”4, presumably after the death of her mother. This would make her mother’s death more like 1881 than 1877. However, the birth date on Lyle’s stone must be in error, for in an April 1878 letter Robert talks of his mourning for his late wife—

“. . . However, I hope I begin to see light beyond the Clouds that has oppressed me ever since I lost Eliza. up to a very short time ago, I thought I Niver should recover from that dead ?dull heavey feeling that obscured all things that the Mind dwelt appon, but things are begining to have a better appearence and I begin to feel I have a little Courage left—but a little—and I Must Make the Most of it whilst it remain. . . .”5

In a letter to Pirney the next year Robert expresses gratification that his children seem to be doing well—

“I received your very kind letter which pleased me very Much as I often think about the children. To know thay are well and contented is to give one courage to go on with the fight for life . . .”6

Robert’s three oldest children—Hannah, Robert and George—appear in the Samuel Gibson household in the 1881 census. In an earlier letter, the children’s father was thankful for the Gibsons“ kindheartedness—

“. . . Say to Sml Gibson I received his kind letters. give my warmest regards to each of them. I shall not soon forget there kindness. . . .”7

Writing to my mother in 1941, Lyle Flint said she was brought up in the Blinn family—

“. . . You know your Mother & I were brought up by Aunt Mary Blinn & we were like sisters. I always called my Auntie ‘Momey’—& the other children were brought up at Uncle Gibsons, except my sister Bessie & she went over to Florence Blinn’s Mother. She was four years old at that time. . . .”8
Grave of Robert and Eliza Flint

Canada Gen Web's Cemetery Project; photo by Alison Mitchell-Reid, 2009.

The gravestone of Robert and Eliza Flint in Brick Street Cemetery, London, ON, has been interpreted to read:

In/Memory of/Robert G. Flint/Died/In Calledonia/Nov 21, 1885/? 69 years/Also his wife/Eliza/Died/In Calledonia/July 24, 1877/?36 years/Natives of (Keswick?)/Canada

“Calledonia” is obviously a misreading of “California”. Robert died on 2 Nov 1885. “Keswick” must be a misreading of “England”.

In the 1891 census Lyle is in the Gibson, not the Blinn, home. I can’t find her in 1881, but then I can’t find the Blinns, either. I believe “Florence Blinn’s Mother” to have been Martha Elizabeth (Hammond) Blinn (1857–1898) who was married to William George Blinn (1853–1931) William and Mary (Flint) Blinn’s son. Unfortunately, I am unable to find any record of an Elizabeth (“Bessie”) Flint in the William and Elizabeth Blinn household in 1881 or 1891. There is an 1898 record of the marriage in London, ON, of 23-year-old Elizabeth Flint to 40-year-old widower Charles W Ruppe, a builder/carpenter. Ruppe had previously been married to Louisa Gibson, daughter of Samuel and Amelia Gibson, and who apparently died young. Subsequently Charles and Bessie show up in the U S censuses for Yonkers, NY.

And who was “Uncle” Samuel Gibson, and in what way was he family? I have traced him from his birth in Wadworth Parish, Yorkshire, England, on 2 May 1827. According to his baptismal record his parents were William and Ann Gibson and his father was a tailor. In the English census of 1841 he was living with two brothers and two sisters and his widowed mother who was a grocer. He immigrated to Canada in 1851 in time for that year’s Canadian census, in which he was living with the family of his brother William in London, Middlesex Co, Canada West. Both William and Samuel were listed as tailors. In the 1861 census he was a grocery clerk and in 1871 he was still a clerk. In an 1872 letter to Pirney, R G Jr implied Gibson may have borrowed money from him—

“. . . you are right in keeping posession of the corner lot of land. have an eye to it as I wish to add it to the lot on the river so soon as it can be had. the Money I left for the purchas of it Saml Gibson borrowed untill the land is for sale. at least I wrote to Wm. Blinn to let him have it; I have Not heard from it since. . . .”9

Perhaps he did well in the grocery business for in 1881 and 1891 no occupation was listed. (Or perhaps he was fully occupied as guardian of Robert’s children.) In 1901 he was a “gentleman”. He died on 12 May 1909 and his death record said he was a “retired gentleman”. I believe, though I have been unable to prove, that Samuel’s wife, Amelia Matilda Gibson, was an older half sister of the four Elson sisters, two of whom were married to Robert and Pirney Flint. She would thus have been an aunt of the orphaned Flints and her husband would have been their uncle.


1 Flint, R (1872).

2 Registrations of Deaths, 1869–1938. MS 935, reel 10. Archives of Ontario, Toronto.

3 Letter from Mary Rogers, London Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society, 27 May 1986.

4 Flint, L (1941).

5 Flint, R (1878).

6 Flint, R (1879).

7 Flint, R (1878).

8 Flint, L (1941).

9 Flint, R (1872).

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