Monday, July 10, 2017

A Surname Caught My Eye

Yes a surname caught my eye and off I went on a search to learn more. 

I was looking at Facebook and saw that one of my cousins liked a particular author. The author is Canadian author, Antonia Monacelli from Cambridge, Ontario. Her recently released title, shown in the image, was Bullets, Brothels & Blood. The title itself is intriguing. It was in the description about this book where the surnames Wonch and Leppard caught my eye. The Wonch surname was the one of interest as it is one of the family names of a Markham Berczy settler. Now the original spelling would have been Wunsch. The Leppard surname held no special meaning. The book describes a feud between two families over many decades. 


Now that I was intrigued, I did a Google search: wonch leppard ontario murder. In the list appeared 



Sad End.: Grey Highlands Public Library Digital Collections - Our Ontario

images.ourontario.ca/ghpl/1118693/data


A woman and four children burned to death. ... Mr. Wonch is an industrious man who has lived on the Mill road some time, his wife a kind ... Irish woman, daughter of J. Leppard, near Markdale, Grey Co., and four children comprised the family.

Check out the tragic story that appeared in the Markdale Standard (Markdale, Ont.), 11 Jun 1885, p. 5. [Click the link above] [1] Although the story did not appear to relate to the subject of the book that started this search, I wanted to know more about this family.


So off I went to Ancestry to locate the death registrations for Mrs. Wonch and the four children. I kept the search simple - surname Wonch  death date 1885 where Ontario, Canada.


Mary Wonch's death was registered in the township of Vespra, Simcoe County. [2] Mary Wonch was 29 years old and born in Ontario. The original cause of death is listed as "burnt to death".  In the remarks it says "The above Mary Wonch and her four children were accidentally burnt to death by their house taking fire while they were in bed." [3]


The children were Lillian May Wonch, age 6 years; [4] William James Wonch, age 4 years; [5] Peter John Wonch, age 2 years; [6] baby Wonch, age 1 month. [7] They all died 5 June 1885.


Now because the deaths occurred in Simcoe County, it was worthwhile to check if information appeared in a newspaper of the time most likely in Barrie, Ontario, the nearest large community. Barrie Public Library has a link to the index and images of newspapers. There was a write up of the tragedy in the Northern Advance. [8]


The story is told in a much different way with different information provided. The husband is listed as William Wonch in the Barrie newspaper. Still no first name is given for Mrs. Wonch. There is no reference to where she came from or her father's name. In the Barrie newspaper, there is no mention of the coat. Even the sequence of events are different. Very mysterious -- a tragic event.


To be continued

Sources of information

[1] "Sad End" Markdale Standard 11 June 1885 p. 5, http://images.ourontario.ca/ghpl/1118693/data; transcription

[2] http://www.werelate.org/wiki/Place:Vespra,_Simcoe,_Ontario,_Canada

[3] Mary Wonch Ontario death registration (#015790, 15 June 1885); digital image, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 10 June 2017), citing microfilm MS 935 Reel 41, Archives Ontario, Toronto.

[4] Lillian May Wonch Ontario death registration (#015791, 15 June 1885); digital image, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 10 June 2017), citing microfilm MS 935 Reel 41, Archives Ontario, Toronto.

[5] William James Wonch Ontario death registration (#015792, 15 June 1885);  digital image, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 10 June 2017), citing microfilm MS 935 Reel 41, Archives Ontario, Toronto.

[6] Peter John Wonch Ontario death registration (#015793, 15 June 1885); digital image, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 10 June 2017), citing microfilm MS 935 Reel 41, Archives Ontario, Toronto.

[7] Baby Wonch Ontario death registration (#015794, 15 June 1885); digital image, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 10 June 2017), citing microfilm MS 935 Reel 41, Archives Ontario, Toronto.

[8]"Fatal Fire: A Mother and Four Children Cremated Alive" Northern Advance (Barrie, Ontario), Thursday, June 11, 1885, p.1; digital image, http://news.ourontario.ca/Barrie/2765153/page/1?n=2&q=wonch

© 2017 Janet Iles Print

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