Norman Richard Birge was born 15 April 1893 in Horning Mills, Ontario to Charles and Mary Jane Birge. The family also lived for awhile in Mulmur Township, Simcoe County but they returned to live in Melancthon Township, Dufferin County. Sometime after the death of Norman’s father, Norman’s mother moved to Owen Sound.
Norman was a sailor. On 24 July 1911, a border crossing record shows him entering the United States on, possibly either the Pretorian or the Siberian, both Allen Line ships, with the destination as the “Soo” [Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan]. His most recent permanent residence was in Owen Sound. His father was listed as living in Horning Mills.
Norman joined the Canadian Over-seas Expeditionary Force on 7 July 1915 at the Niagara Camp. Before enlisting with the 58th Battalion, Norman had belonged to the Active Militia. Norman was 5 foot 8 inches tall with fair complexion, light blue eyes and light brown hair.
Norman went to France with the Unit in 1916. He was with the Canadian Infantry (Eastern Ontario Regiment) 2nd Battalion at the time of his death. He died 25 April 1917. He is buried at the Bois-Carre British Cemetery in Thelus, Pas de Calais, France (Gave 1. D. 11)
Who was left to mourn his death? What is known about his family?
Norman was survived by his mother, Mary Jane Birge, his grandmother, Esther Ann Beckett and his sister, Ethel Louisa Patterson and her husband John. He was predeceased by his father, and two sisters, Lena and Irene.
Norman’s father was Charles Birge born 26 February 1839 in Pennsylvania, USA. Charles came to Canada about 1845. Charles was a sawmiller and a carpenter. Charles’ parents were John and Margaret Birge. At the time of his marriage, Charles was living in Melancthon Township, Ontario. On his death registration his mother’s maiden name looks like Petra. Charles Irving [?] Birge died 10 April 1912 in Horning Mills, Ontario.
Norman’s mother was Mary Jane Beckett. She was born 30 December 1854 in Hamilton, Ontario to Richard Beckett and Esther Ann Knott. She married Charles Birge on 22 September 1886 in Owen Sound, Ontario. She was living in Sarawak Township at the time of her marriage to Charles.
After Charles’ death, Mary Jane re-married. She married John Mitchell, a 64 year old widower and farmer from Horning Mills. The marriage took place in Owen Sound on 15 October 1913. In Norman’s obituary that was published in the Owen Sound Advertiser, Norman’s mother’s name was given as Mrs. Mitchell, whereas in the Owen Sound Sun her name was given as Mrs. M. Birge. It stated that Norman’s mother and grandmother lived together at 1576 8th Avenue East. Mary Birge died in Owen Sound on 2 April 1953 at the age of 99. Mary was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Owen Sound. It is not known what happened to John Mitchell.
Norman’s Known Siblings
Lena Maria Elizabeth was born 10 August 1887 in Horning Mills, Melancthon Township. Lena died from diphtheria on 12 February 1888. On 5 April 1889, Ethel Louisa was also born in Melancthon Township. On 3 July 1912, she married John Patterson, a candy maker in York, York County. Irene was born 13 February 1896 and died on 3 June 1896 in Horning Mills from scarlet fever.
Norman’s Grand Parents
Norman’s paternal grandparents were John Birge and Margaret [Petra?]. Nothing more is known about them. Norman’s maternal grandparents were Richard Beckett and Esther Ann Knott. Both were born in England. Richard was a farmer. Richard died 27 February 1896. Esther Ann Beckett died 8 November 1921 in Owen Sound.
Norman’s Great-Grand Parents
Esther Ann Knott’s parents were James Nott [sic] and Rachel Robbins.
The above is from "In Grateful Remembrance" a yet to be published work by Janet Iles.
References available upon request.