Presentation Sep 12
Preserving and Promoting local history for the former Rideau Township
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Catherine (White) Gallagher may be New England born and a resident of Arizona, but her connection to this region are blood strong. At least 43 members and guests filled the Carsonby Hall to hear Gallagher speak about “Duty, Family, Service” - The Wallace-Eastman Family”.

   The Gallaghers with Bill Tupper

Catherine and Bob Gallagher, shown here with Bill Tupper, visited the Rideau Branch of the Ottawa Archives in the course of researching Catherine’s family. They very kindly timed their visit so as to speak to the Rideau Township Historical Society September meeting on the connections to the Walace - Eastman  families is this area.

Long-time residents and regional historians know the names well. After all, Eastmans and Wallaces helped settle this area. The audience was well-sprinkled with decedents and distant relatives  - if every connection on various family trees was traced and known.

Gallagher's talk focused on the life and family of her great-grandfather, Dr. David Wardrope Wallace (1850-1924). His parents (James Wallace and Agnes Adams) came from Scotland in the mid 1840's.  James Wallace died sometime before 1860. According to some accounts he was lost and frozen in a snowstorm. Thereafter, David Wallace helped support his widowed mother, a sister and an invalid brother. He became a teacher at age 16 – which sounds young but was not unheard of for that time. It's possible he taught his future wife.

He went on the become a medical doctor and a member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. He practiced in North Gower, Metcalfe, Ottawa and Kemptville.

In 1883 he married Esther Angelia Eastman, who had qualified to teach herself at age 18. She was descended from United Empire Loyalists by way of Eastman, McEwen, Kerr, McLaughlin and Sherman lines.  

The couple had eight children - all born in the same house on Victoria Street in Metcalfe. Each of their four sons became physicians as well. Their eldest daughter died in her early 20's. Two other daughters became teachers. The fourth married a trade commissioner. In addition to his long career in medicine, Dr. Wallace was also a Liberal Member of Parliament representing Russell from 1903-04.

Gallagher's own career involved sales management in the education, manufacturing, and travel industries. Though long interested in the subject, she only began seriously researching her extensive family tree over the last dozen years. Her line of descent goes thusly: Dr. David Wallace begat Dr. Charles Kenneth Wallace who begat Betty Patricia Wallace White who begat Catherine Gallagher. (The Biblical flourish was irresistible – how often does one get to use “begat”?)  

The September 2012 Presentation

"Duty, Family, Service” - The Wallace-Eastman Family

Presenter:  Catherine Gallagher

Article and pictures by Lucy Martin

Gallagher's grandfather, Dr. Charles K. Wallace, served in WW I under Lt.-Col. Dr. John McCrae, of Flanders Fields fame. Sometimes what we know about long-gone ancestors comes down through family lore. According to Charles, his father David walked 80 miles to take and pass his initial teacher's certificate. Charles also recounted that he never heard either parent make an unkind comment about anyone.  (A rare – and admirable – compliment.)

Genealogy uncovers all sorts of facts and stories about specific relatives. Broader findings also reflect various shifts over time. Things like family size - under one roof and beyond. For example, how many first cousins do you have? Gallagher said she has 19 first cousins, and her husband, Bob Gallagher, has 17. Contrast those numbers to Esther's father, North Gower blacksmith Cyrus Eastman (1804? -1888). He  had 209 first cousins - 92 on the McEwen side; 117 on the Eastman side!

Exploring the family tree has been a fruitful line of endeavor. Gallagher is now president of the West Valley Genealogical Society & Library (near Phoenix) with over 700 members. She also produced a book “The Descendents of William 'Benjamin' Eastman”, which can be found at the Rideau Archives.

Speaking after her talk, Gallagher mentioned deep gratitude for the generosity she's encountered along the way from fellow genealogists. She added a friendly caution: once bitten by the family tree bug one might never finish: “Because you learn more about the next generation. There's always more. It's so much fun – and frustrating.” (Frustrations arise when research hits a “brick wall” and cannot uncover more information. Or sorting out too many people who share the same name.) Like others in this pursuit, she stressed the importance of collecting information from older generations while that's still possible.

With a laugh of relief, Gallagher said she had been equally thrilled and scared to come and present. She added it was an honour to meet Archive volunteers and RTHS members in person, including some who may know more about the subject than she does. For their part, Archive volunteers mentioned being impressed at how Gallagher and her husband put in days of additional field and archival research prior to the event.

Gallagher's own expertise and diligence were quite evident in her well-illustrated talk. In case you missed it, or wish to learn more, print and digital copies of Gallagher's slide presentation are available at the Rideau Archives. Gallagher says she enjoys helping others and sharing her findings.

Any family is fortunate to have members willing to do such detailed research. Their toil allows others to see the leaves, trunk and roots on a given family tree – without replicating all that heavy lifting!  

   The Catherine Gallagher and the Wrights

Left to right, Colin and Carol Wright, Catherine Gallagher and Ruth and Brian Wright. The Wrights are distant relatives of Catherine, and are of course long term and valued members of the RTHS.