Updated: Aug 21
It's not uncommon to have one's memory stirred by some knick-knack or curio found lurking in the back of a desk drawer. But what if the memory stirring item was the desk itself? Such was the case with new House of Prowse member Dave Prowse, of Southern Ontario, Canada. His cousin Janice had given him their grandfather's desk, and this is where the Prowse trail began.
Their grandfather was Stanton Earl Prowse and other than recollections from childhood, Dave really didn't know much about him or other Prowse ancestors.
What Dave thought he knew about Stanton was that he was a medaled soldier stationed in France during WWI; that after the war, he eloped to Montreal with Edna Amelia Cohoon to marry; that he and Edna often vacationed in Nova Scotia; and that he eventually became a Chartered Professional Accountant. Dave also knew that Stanton's father, Henry, was a mason who constructed the first brick and stone silos in the area, some of which are still standing, because the wood ones were prone to problems.
Dave supposed that the Prowses had come to Southern Ontario from Cornwall or Devon and may have sailed out of Plymouth.
My curiosity was piqued, in part because I wondered if they might be connected to one of the notable Prowse lines out of Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, or Montreal. Also because Henry was a mason, a trade common to several of fellow member Malcolm Prowse's and my own forebears. So, what did we learn?
Some context, the majority of this story takes place in Elgin County, Ontario, a rectangular strip of land along the north shore of Lake Erie, just south of London, Ontario. Elgin county is highly rural and agricultural. Malahide Township is located in the eastern portion of Elgin County and the town of Aylmer within that township.
Stanton Earl Prowse was born 17 August 1893 in Aylmer, to William 'Henry' Prowse and Geraldine Mann. He attended Queens University in Kingston, Ontario where he graduated with a Civil Engineering degree. During his time at Queens, he had also served three years in the Canadian Militia.
After graduating from Queens, he returned to Aylmer and began practice as a Civil Engineer. In late 1915 he enlisted for service and had
an interesting and upwardly mobile military career in the Artillery, eventually rising to the rank of Lieutenant at the time of his discharge in 1919. There is an excellent write-up on Stanton on the Elgin Ontario Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society website, which includes transcriptions of letters written during WWI.
Here's what we can glean from his military records:
At time of Enlistment: Height: 5' 10-1/2" / Weight: 166 lbs
At time of Discharge: Height: 5' 11-1/2" / Weight: 175 lbs / Eye Colour: Green
8-Nov-1915 / Enlistment Date
4-Feb-1916 / Embarkation for England aboard the S.S. Metagama - arrived 14-Feb. It appears that while aboard he was promoted to Sergeant Major.
14-Jul-1916 / Proceed to France
15-Feb-1917 / Return to England for Commissioned Officer Training
13-Jun-1917 / Promoted to Lieutenant 46th Queens Battery
17-Oct-1917 / Return to France
21-Feb-1918 to 26-February-1918 / Hospitalized in Étaples, France for Orchitis
7-Apr-1918 / Returned to Duty
11-Jul-1918 / Granted 14 days leave to the UK
24-Nov-1918 / Granted 14 days leave to the UK
10-Dec-1918 to 21-December-1918 / London General Hospital w/Laryngitis
30-Mar-1919 / Demobilized
5-May-1919/ Return to Canada on the S.S. Mauritania
The only record for Stanton Prowse after his return to Canada in 1919 is for his burial, June 5, 1973 at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, London Ontario.
The article on the Ontario Genealogical Society website says he married Edna Amelia Cohoon (b. Nov 26, 1895 Malahide) in either late 1921 or early 1922. Dave says his cousin Janice told him a long time ago was that they had eloped to Montreal to get married because his grandmother's parents opposed the marriage because one of Stanton's brothers was a drinker (bearing in mind that this was during the time of Prohibition in Canada). As no records of any brothers have yet been found, Dave wonders if it was Stanton's father.
The same article also says he was employed with Thayer's (a car dealership) in London, Ontario. As to why Stanton chose to become a Chartered Professional Accountant, when he graduated as a Civil Engineer, Dave said "Although my grandfather graduated from civil engineering I'm not sure if he ever worked as one. He may have. I've never heard of Thayer's before, though; I had always been under the impression he worked for Supertest, the petroleum company based in London Ont. In fact the first Supertest station in Canada opened in London in the 1920s and the head office was located there too, in Pall Mall Street, not very far from where my grandparents lived." Supertest acquired Thayer's in 1949.
Dave had a few other remembrances:
Dave was told Stanton's wife's family, the Cohoons, were Welsh, that interestingly settled in Rhode Island and left for Nova Scotia when the American war of Independence broke out. Which may explain his grandparents road trips to Nova Scotia that he recalls them going on when he was a little kid. He still remembers looking at their trip photos. Records for Edna's parents confirm their connection to Nova Scotia.
Dave also told me "My Prowse grandfather had a cottage in Port Bruce on Lake Erie which is a little south of the village of Sparta. On a recent trip to Sparta I met a man in a old historic blacksmith museum who directed me to the old ''Prowse house' in Sparta where apparently an old ancestor of mine once resided circa late or maybe mid1800s. Not sure which ancestor though. That guy told me his sister used to babysit my dad back in the 1930s. Had no idea I was going to meet somebody like that that day, so that was interesting, and it sort of set me off on this trail of adventure."
Dave Prowse Ancestors (including WikiTree links)
Great Great Great Great Grandfather
William Prowse (c.1769 Devon - c.1842 Devon (unverified)) - School Master
m. 1808 at Ugborough, Devon to Margaret Lang
Children: William, and Henry
Great Great Great Grandfather
William Prowse (1810 Ugborough, Devon - 1881 Ermington or Plympton St. Mary, Devon (unverified)) - Mason
m. 1832 at Buckfastleigh, Devon to Elizabeth Walters (1812 Buckfastleigh - 1896 Plympton St. Mary (Portsmouth))
Children: Henry, Ann, William, Elisabeth, John, Mary J, Philip, Samuel, Emily, Charlotte, and Sarah
Great Great Grandfather
Henry Prowse (1835 Ermington - 1896 Malahide Twp, Elgin, Ontario) - Mason
m. 1855 at Plympton St. Mary to Hannah Jeffrey (1836 Devon - 1929 Malahide Twp)
Note: The couple appear to have emigrated to Canada in late 1855 or early 1856 as their eldest child was born in November of that year.
Children: William Henry, Elizabeth, Frederick, Mary Jane, Sarah Maria, Eliza Marella, Charles, and Jane.
Note: both Henry and Hannah are buried in Dunboyne Cemetery, Malahide Twp - a few kilometers south of Aylmer.
William Henry Prowse (1856 Ontario - 1943 Elgin, Ontario) - Mason & Plasterer
m. 1881 at St. Thomas ON to Geraldine Mann (1856 Ontario - 1924 Elgin, Ontario)
Children: Maud, Eva May (Mary), Stanton Earl.
Note: both William Henry and Geraldine are buried in the Aylmer Cemetery.
Stanton Earl Prowse (1893 Malahide, Ontario – 1973 London, Ontario) – Civil Engineer
m. 1921 or 1922 at Montreal to Edna Amelia Cohoon (1894 Malahide, Ontario – 1984 London, Ontario).
Children: Barbara Jane (m. Gord Tilford) and Donald Hugh.
Note: both Stanton and Edna are buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, London, Ontario.
Donald Hugh Prowse (c.1932 Ontario – 2013 Exeter, Ontario) – Occupation?
m. when/where Patricia Marie Cooper (? – 1970)
Children: David Stanton & Dianne Elizabeth
m. c.1981 to Mary Margaret McLeish.
Note: Information in this post reflects the research and knowledge of the author.