Smyth Family of Ontario

Last update of page: 21 February 2010.

The Smyth family (pronounced like "Smith") enters into Douglas J. Graham's Family Reunion through my great-grandmother, Martha Smyth, wife of Bill Maxwell. Relatively little information is available on the earlier generations of this side of the family; much of the information below was dug up by my father Bill Graham in 1994. Clayton Holmes (1) used the spelling "Smythe" which was in error.


Robin Smyth --- m. --- Martha Jane McKee


John Smyth, b. 1829 --- m. --- Agnes Henry


Bill Maxwell, b. 1855 --- m. --- Martha Smyth (10 children)


Paul Graham, b. 1894 --- m. --- Mildred Maxwell (4 children)


William Graham, b. 1929 --- m. --- Margaret Barclay (see Danes)


Douglas J. Graham, b. 1958 --- m. --- France Marcoux


Camille, b. 1992 and Stéphanie Graham, b. 1994

Bill and Marg Graham in 1993 went looking for family roots in the area of Keady, Ontario (extracts here from the wonderful little account in (2); the beginning part of the story is in the Maxwell chapter):

"[Talking to Ron Kuhl, local historian...] I mentioned a few names and he jumped on the name Smythe, but he corrected the pronunciation to Smyth (like Smith), and I remember Mother saying it was pronounced like Smith. I also remember Dad half-jokingly arguing that Millie was German - that was "during the war years".

Ron was on the phone to Verna Henderson As I talked to Verna [on the phone] we had a great talk. She was born Verna Smyth; her father was "little Jim" Smyth (because he was big); her aunt was Martha Smyth. I was saying, "but Martha is my grandmother". What neither of us said was that Verna and Millie, though they didn't know of one another, were first cousins - she was my first cousin once removed! She named all of her aunts and uncles and I scribbled as fast as I could. She obviously didn't want me to visit - she said I could visit her brother Melvin in Owen Sound - Ron said she was not too well.

A footnote: Verna Smyth Henderson told me that the Smyths came from Armagh (I thought she said Nurey (?) near Armagh, so I've just checked a map of Armagh County, Northern Ireland (there is no Nurey - possibly the name of a farm). Suddenly I spotted a tiny town, about 12 km south of the town of Armagh, named Keady. Do you have any idea of how such happenings affect my heart?"

Robin Smyth

Robin Smyth was married to Martha Jane McKee (3) and had at least one son, considered below. They presumably lived in Ireland and presumably in Armagh County (maybe even Keady?) as noted above.

John Smyth, b. 1829

John is the only known child of Robin Smyth and Martha Jane McKee. He was born in 1829 and married Agnes Henry, b. 1832 (3). John Smyth emigrated to Keady, Ontario as a young man after his marriage (but see note below about Clark Township).

John Smyth was married to Agnes Henry according to (2) and (3). Agnes Henry is the mother of Martha in the latter’s 1880 marriage certificate. Clayton Holmes (5) had indicated his wife was Sarah Cowan but this name does not appear anywhere else and seems to be an error.

Clayton Holmes (5) relates the following story of John Smyth: "He was deeply religious but stern and unyielding. He sounded the pitch pipe in church to give the key to the choir. Later in life the younger generation decided they wanted an organ which he condemned as being sacrilegious. The upshot was that the church split in half and had to build another. I think he and his pitch pipe remained in the old church". He died in 1915 and Agnes in 1913 (3), presumably both in the Keady area of Ontario.

Martha Smyth, b. 1856, and Siblings

The children (3) of John Smyth were presumably all born in Keady or in that area (Martha was born in Clark Township and Keady is in Derby Township so this information needs revision).

1) Martha Smyth, b. abt 1857 in Clark Township, ON (from her 1880 marriage record cited in Maxwell chapter). Daisy Sanderson (6) had stated she was born on the boat over from Ireland but that does not seem to be supported by any record. She married William James ("Bill") Maxwell (see that chapter for more information on his family, on their life together, and on their 11 children). At the time of marriage, she was resident in Sullivan. The family name is spelt “Smith” in the marriage record. One of the witnesses (difficult to read) is “Jms. H. Smith” of Sullivan. Not clear who that might be. Perhaps an uncle or her younger brother.

Martha apparently did oil paintings (6). She died in 1911 of tuberculosis, probably in Arcola.

2) Robert, died an infant.

3) John Henry ("Henry" in (6)), b. 1859. He married Hannah Margaret Dolphin, b. 1860, daughter of Thomas and Mary Ann Dolphin. They had 4 children (3) but Henry died at the age of 30 in 1889. His widow remarried in 1908 to Donald McIntyre. His children were:

1. Thomas John Smyth, b. 1888. He married Margaret R. Smith, b. 1896. He died in 1979 and she died in 1982. They presumably moved to Trochu, Alberta. They had four children (see further details in my notes on all his descendents):
  1. John H. Smyth, b. 1919. He m. Mary Monica Boulter in 1946 and had four children.
  2. Eldon R. He m. in 1946 to May Prothero and had five children.
  3. Thomas Donald, b. 1926 in Trochu, Alberta. He m. Maureen Corphin in 1955. In 1993 he corresponded with my father (3); at that time he was Chairman of the Board for Heinz Canada. They had a daughter, Laurie J. Smyth, b. 1956 and a son David J., b. 1958. Laurie and her husband Blair McCulligh and their two children live in Murillo, Ontario and were visited by my parents in 1994 (my father being her second cousin once removed). Bill Graham writes: "Laurie has striking grey hair; says all Smyth women are grey by 40 or so. I could see family likeness (like Audrey Maxwell or even Millie Maxwell) so what I thought was Maxwell looks evidently came down from Martha Smyth."
  4. Ernest N. ("Tim"), b. 1929. He m. in 1962 to Shirley Walker, b. 1938. They had two children. My parents met him in 1994 in Trochu, Alberta (4).

2. Robert Britton, b. 1890, d. 1909.

3. Mary Ann ("Annie"), b. 1891, m. J. Stuart Greig, b. 1887. She died in 1921 and her widow in 1975. He had remarried to Greta Robe (ca. 1900-1948) and had some 15 more children. Mary Ann had five children (see further notes on them and their children in my files):
  1. James S. Henry ("Henry"), b. 1912. He m. 1934 to Fay de Ford and had four children. My parents visited them in Trochu, Alberta in 1994. Bill Graham writes (4): "As when I met Laurie, I was amazed at the family likenss; Henry looked like my uncles Rob and Jim Maxwell. Once again I had to recognize that the "Maxwell look" was actually a Smyth look. Audrey and Leora in Vulcan would gasp if Henry was to appear before them."
  2. Child, b. 1914, presumably died young.
  3. Robert, b. 1915. He m. in 1939 to Gwen Hodgson and had three children
  4. Child, b. 1918, died in the Great Flu Epidemic.
  5. Helen, b. 1920. She m. 1941 to Richard J. Lysall and had four children. See some further notes on their children in (4).

4. Sara, b. 1894. She m. in 1912 to John Swanson (1887-1957). They had seven children and 31 grandchildren (see further notes in my files). She d. in 1970. Their children were:
  1. Margaret, m. Henry Snyder. Four daughters and three sons.
  2. Alex, m. Margaret Burby. Five daughters and three sons.
  3. Sara, m. Tom Shepherd. Four daughters.
  4. Donald, m. "Pete". Two daughters and one son.
  5. Jean, m. Rudolf Thompson. Three sons.
  6. Ann, m. Herb Huck. Two daughters and two sons.
  7. Marion, m. Elmer Stickel. One daughter and one son.

4) Robert, b. 1862, d. 1945. He moved to Seattle (2).

5) Jim, known as "Little Jim" (2), b. 1864. He married Eleanor Clugston and had at least three children:

1. Alice?, b. 1909. She had at least one son, Bill Hall (married to Pauline).
2. Verna, b. 1919, m. a Henderson. Living in Keady, Ontario in 1993. This is the Verna who spoke to my father in 1993 (2).
3. Melvin. Living in Owen Sound in 1993 (2). Inez Felton of Port Elgin, ON is his daughter (who has corresponded with me: (9)).

6) Mary, b. 1867, died young in 1903 (3) of "brain fever" just as she was about to marry a McCoy (2).

7) Jane, b. 1872, d. 1927 (3); never married (2). Margaret Bryce (7) writes of some Arcola memories of her childhood: "...of our Grandmother's sister, Jane Smythe. She was a spinster and taught school. She met with an accident when her horse ran away, throwing her out of the buggy against a post and injuring her head. She had spells of being in the Mental Hospital. When her memory would come back she made her home with her brother Charles. She was a tall stately person with beautiful long red hair".

8) William Charles ("Charlie" in (6)), b. 1874. According to (6), went into the Ministry but ended up teaching at Dungannen School in Arcola. He was a teacher of Jane Maxwell. He later became town clerk (municipal secretary) in Kisbey, Sask. He was married to Minny and had an adopted boy, Basil. Basil was reputedly involved in pilfering funds from the town and after a cover-up by Charlie, his father was imprisoned. Charlie died in 1954. Basil married, had five children, divorced and moved east.


I have a lengthy genealogical compilation (1) on the Maxwells and Smyths of our family which provided many of the names and dates presented above.

Subsequently, some additional research has been done by my father, Bill Graham (2, 4). He also obtained, in correspondence with Tom Smyth of Toronto, a copy of a family history book (3).


(1) A 27 page listing, in five chapters, of all the descendants of Hamilton Maxwell and Margaret Coulter (very basic genealogical information). The copy I have is not dated and does not include the author's name but from separate correspondence I know it was compiled by Clayton Holmes, sometime between 1968 and 1972. In my files.
(2) "The Keady Maxwells", Bill Graham, September 1993. Account of their trip to Keady, Ontario and Owen Sound to dig up information on the Maxwells and Smyths.
(3) Family history book called "From Homestead Shacks and Turtlebacks", 1988 (author unsure). This seems to be a book about the history of Trochu, Alberta. Bill Graham has extracted information from this book which is cited here.
(4) "Alberta's Smyths, Greigs, and Swansons", Bill Graham, September 1994. Write-up of visit to Smyth relatives in Alberta.
(5) Three page document by Clayton Holmes dated May 3 1968 entitled "Geneology [sic] of Hamilton Lowery Maxwell and Margaret Coulter".
(6) Notes written by Douglas Graham on 4 July 1982 from a meeting between my father and I and Daisy Sanderson (née Maxwell) in Brandon, Manitoba. She provided us in that meeting with much information on the early Maxwells. Her notes on early Smyths may be conjecture.
(7) Letter from Margaret Bryce to Bill and Marg Graham, about 1972 (copy in my files; original sent to her granddaughter, Wendy Walker). (8) Pers. correspondence, Bill Hall [ID-353], August 2004. (9) Pers. correspondence, Inez Felton [ID-354], January 2006.

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