Chapter 12: Early Families of Tofield “N-P”
Plants p. 306
Pruden p. 307
Note Re: BIOGRAPHIES OF PIONEER FAMILIES
The committee responsible for the compilation of this book felt that for practical reasons the accounts of pioneer families should be limited to those families who were in this area by 1910. After this date, a large influx of immigrants entered the Tofield district; the pioneer era was over.
Members of the pioneer families were asked to submit their family histories. If direct contact was impossible friends of the family were consulted.
Since the excellent history of the Bardo district, “Pioneers of Bardo, Alberta” by Ragna Steen and Magda Hendriksen contains biographies of the families in that district, no attempt has been made to duplicate this material. We are well aware, however, of the invaluable contribution made to Tofield area by the Bardo pioneers.
Those submitting biographies were encouraged to record family legends and experiences as well as the relevant statistics and dates. While this anecdotal approach has enlarged the book, thereby increasing its cost, we feel that the spirit of the pioneer era has been accurately presented for future generations.
THE NEAL FAMILY
William Henry Harrison Neal, his wife (Sarah Anne Elizabeth Rolston), and their son Harry came to the Tofield area in 1894. They had come to Canada from Auburn and Lincoln, Nebraska.
Mr. W.H.H. Neal and his son Harry filed on homesteads south of Tofield near the quarter homesteaded by the late Mr. Peter Lee.
This land was later given up and the family moved to another homestead situated about half a mile west of the land until recently occupied and owned by Jim Francis family. The Harry Neal quarter is now owned by Mr. J. Kauffman. The W. H. Neal quarter was directly across the road from this to the south.
Harry Neal married Tealy Lena Rickner on April 10, 1901. This marriage united two very early pioneer families. Mrs. Neal was the eldest daughter of Mrs. Nettie Rickner, a lady of truly pioneer qualities. Mrs. Rickner had been left a widow with a large family to raise. She did this successfully and also became a respected, beloved pioneer neighbour.
From the marriage of Harry Neal and Tealy Rickner are five living children: Mrs. Dorothy Calvert of Vancouver; Mrs. T.E. Seale (Bertha), of Toronto; Ralph of Los Angeles; Mrs. C.A. Everitt (Edith), of Edmonton; Mrs. S.B. Yakabuski (Nettie) of Edmonton.
Mrs. W.H.H. Neal passed away in 1907 following a lengthy illness; Mr. Harry Neal in 1909; Mr. W.H.H. Neal in 1921.
Mrs. Harry Neal later married Mr. J.S. Munro. There are three living children from this marriage: Fred, of Los Angeles; Archie and Kenneth, of Vancouver. Jessie (Mrs. Bennie Hobson), passed away in June 1951; also a baby died in 1921 — Lester Edward.
Mrs. J.S. Munro passed on in December, 1934. Of the pioneer Neal family, there are thirteen grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Mrs. Seale, Mrs. Everitt and Mrs. Yakabuski frequently visit in Tofield, renewing old acquaintances, and visiting their aunt, Mrs. Jack Appleby, the former Vena Rickner.
This material was made available by Mrs. T.E. Seale.
THE JOSHUA NOLAND FAMILY
—- Thelma Noland Wallis
Joshua M. Noland was born in Madrid, Iowa, in 1861. In 1887, he married Lida Luella Nelson; to this union were born two daughters, Ethel (Urquhart) and Thelma (Wallis).
Coming to Tofield in 1902, Mr. Noland settled on a homestead five miles north of what is now Tofield. In March, 1903, he brought his family to Alberta, landing in Edmonton. Until the freight and stock arrived, the Nolands stayed at the Strathcona hotel where they were met by Mr. Henry Wood of Tofield who assisted them on their journey to Tofield.
While living on the homestead, Mrs. Noland was Post-mistress of the Logan Post Office which served not only the Mackenzie District, but also outlying districts.
In 1907 the Noland family moved to the old town of Tofield but when their home burned, moved to the present town of Tofield where they built the cottage directly opposite the United Church.
Mr. Noland was one of the original councillors of the Village of Tofield on its incorporation in 1907. For many years he also ran a livery stable and delivered mail in rural areas. He was one of the early road builders of the district, putting the first graded road through the Blackfoot Reserve now known as Highway 16. Mrs. Noland often accompanied her husband on road building trips, cooking for the crew.
Mr. Noland died on September 2, 1939, Mrs. Nolan on March 24, 1958, just prior to her ninetieth birthday. Their daughter Thelma married Rev. A. Wallis (now Canon Wallis). They now live in Victoria, B.C.
NATHANIEL NOLAND FAMILY Rachel (Noland) Schultz
Nathaniel Noland was born in Madrid, Iowa. He married Lenora Biggs and they farmed until 1902 when having heard of free homesteads in Canada, Nathaniel and his brother Joshua came to investigate the possibility of filing on land. While looking over the land around Tofield, they stayed with Henry Wood and his family. They returned to Iowa, loaded their equipment and livestock into colonists’ cars, and returned, arriving in Strathcona, in March, 1903. Here everything was packed in two sleighs and the family consisting of Nathaniel and Lenora Noland and their three children, Rachel, Clillie, and Lester, set out for the Tofield area. One day was not sufficient for the trip, so a stop was made at Gladues for the night. There, on a bed of hay in the big barn., the Noland family spent the night.
Arriving in Tofield, the Nolands stayed with the Prudens who had several log houses and would accommodate homesteaders. Jordie Norris and family were living in one house so the Nolands moved in with Grandma Pruden or “Kookum” as she was known, who let the Nolands have part of the small house where she and her granddaughter, Annie, lived. This was just west of the Bethel farm. Here on April 27, a month after arrival of the Nolands, a baby boy, Everitt, was born.
That summer, Nathaniel filed on N.W. 1/4 of 36-51-19-W.4; his brother Joshua filed on the S.W. 1/4 of the same section. The other two quarters were owned by Clayt Harriman and Sam Bethel. With Nathaniel cutting logs, and Joe Norn dove-tailing them, the Noland’s log house was built.
The Noland family lived in this house for many years as did the George Francis family who later owned the land. Logs cut by Nathaniel and sawed at Henry Wood’s sawmill were used in further building as were the loads of slabs that sixteen-year-old Rachel hauled.
Unfamiliar with the severe winters, the Nolands found themselves short of food when potatoes stored in an out-door pit froze solid. On discovering this calamity Nathaniel, Rachel remembers, cried because the potatoes were to have been the mainstay of the family diet.
“So,” says Rachel, “that left us with frozen potatoes and rabbits for the rest of the winter.”
The school attended by the Noland children was four miles south near the Phillips’ farm; Mr. Whillans was the teacher. Six miles north was Robert Logan’s trading where supplies were available. To eke out the family income, Nathaniel hauled freight and when Henry Wood’s first threshing machine arrived in Edmonton, Nathaniel helped bring it home. Bringing the machine to Tofield by way of Fort Saskatchewan, the men did some threshing jobs en route.
In the pioneer district, with distances great and doctors few, Mrs. Noland served the area as mid-wife.
Nathaniel, and his neighbor, Sam Bethel, were both fond of good horses. Their imported stallions were much in demand. Nathaniel drove in a buggy and led “Old Perch,” a fine Percheron; Sam Bethel rode “Dibbie,” his Punch. There was great rivalry between these two owners at local fairs.
Roads were only trails and Rachel well remembers driving the six miles to the Logan Store for supplies and having a balky team which lay right down in one of the many mudholes. Rachel crawled out of the back of the wagon, walked to her Uncle Josh’s to get his hired man, Pete Gaets, to come and help Mrs. Noland in her predicament. Pete came, unhitched the horses, got them up, re-hitched the horses to the wagon and pulled the wagon out. The trip was then resumed.
In 1917, Nathaniel became ill and was operated or for an ulcer – an unheard of operation at that time, in the Mayo Clinic at Rochester, Minnesota. After seven days in the hospital he became impatient to be home so he invented a tale of serious illness having struck his wife. The hospital staff sympathetically allowed him to go home.
Through all of the hardships of pioneering, Nathaniel and Lenora never wanted to go back to the States. However, on retirement they moved back to Eugene, Oregon to be near their youngest daughter, Flo. Nathaniel died at 86; Lenora then returned to live in Alberta, until she died at 92.
THE PHILLIPS FAMILY
Born in Guelph, Ontario, John Phillips moved to the U.S.A. when a young man; here he married Viola Ackley, of Pennsylvania. They lived in Webb, Buena Vista County, Iowa, until 1901 when, with his wife and family, John Phillips returned to Canada.
Leaving the train at Wetaskiwin where they were met by Henry Wood and Marion Hays of what is now Tofield, the family secured wagons to continue the journey to their new home north of Tofield on N.E. 1/4 of 25-51-19-W.4th. Their house, situated as it was on the old Edmonton trail, became one of the stopping houses so necessary to the travellers of the era who needed a place where both they and their horses could rest overnight, before proceeding on their journey. Here the family grew up.
Dave, the eldest son, married Ethel Rule; Anne married Ed Hill; Linnet married Grover Van Buskirk; Hiram married Pearl Rule. Another daughter Jane came with her husband, Halbert Eaton, in 1906. Rueben married Zoe Plants, daughter of the pioneer Plants family of Tofield; Roenza married Bertha Wolfe, living on the quarter north of the home place till 1947; Emery married Elizabeth Donnel and lived at Hastings Lake till retiring in Edmonton.
After the death of his first wife, John married Bessie Bowd. They built the house in Tofield now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Warner.
Jane and Halbert Eaton had four children, Freda, (Mrs. Fry); Curtis and Gladice (who died very young) and Owen.
Owen married Ellen Campbell of Lamont, and farmed S.W. 35-51-19-W4th. Owen died in 1961. The eldest Eaton son, Walter, lives with his wife Evelyn and their children Brenda, Donnie, Kevin, Brian and Karen in Seba Beach. LeRoy, the second son and his wife Shirley and children Margie and Ronnie live in Leduc. The only daughter, Rita (Mrs. Herb Niemetz), her husband and two daughters, Linda and Sherry reside in Ancaster, Ontario.
Rueben C. Phillips, his wife Zoe and their three sons, Neil, Lynn and Donald lived on the home place till 1928 when they moved to their new home on S.E.35-51-19-W4. R.C, Phillips was a member of the Lakeshore School Board for many years; his wife, Zee, though in indifferent health, took an active interest in the Ladies’ Aid and the F.W.U.A. until her death in 1936. In 1939 Mr. Phillips married Mrs. Minnie McConnell. His death occurred in 1945. The eldest son Neil and his wife, Grace(McKinnon) live on S.E. 1/4 23-51-19, and are active community workers. Their two daughters, Barbara ( Mrs.Harold Conquest) and Sandra, both live in Edmonton.
Lynn Phillips was a member of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment in World War II. He married Doris Light, R.N. from Saskatchewan. His wife and children Barrie, Lynda and Kenny survive him.
Donald Phillips and his wife, Yvonne (Tough), and children, Jack, Donna, Colleen and Sherry live in Edmonton. Don has two sons., Larry and Ronnie, by a previous marriage to Marie Graham.
Roenza (Roe) Phillips and his wife Bertha live near Kingman; they have raised seven children, Patrick (Mike) now lives at Ponoka; Calvin (Bob) and Gilbert both live in Edmonton; Eileen (Mrs. Conrad Simonson) in Kingman, Angeline (Mrs. Peter Laskoski) in Holden, Eugene in the R.C.N., and Shirley (Mrs. Hierlihy).Edmonton,
Roe recalls Chief Meechum who, with his band of Crees, lived on what is now the Blackfoot Forest Reserve. Meechum had very dark skin and features, Negroid rather than Indian.
Travelling in a caravan of approximately twenty-five wagons, the band made frequent, leisurely trips to Tofield, returning late at night with the effects of the “firewater” obtained who-knows-where plainly audible. By the time Ketchamoot Creek was reached, the supply of liquor now depleted, was boosted by the addition of creek water. The same procedure was followed at Hastings and Maskawan Creeks. The dilution of the liquor did not diminish the whooping of the band as the caravan wended its way homeward.
Neighbours of the Phillips family in the early days, recalls Roe, were: Halbergs, Herndons, Bill Bloss, Van Buskirks, Bob Logan, Atkinsons, Lennies, Savers, Andersons, James Pruden, Ed, Frank, Mrs. Norn, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Fraser (whose husband was a fur-buyer for McDougall and Secord and who once owned the land where the H. B.C.’s Edmonton store now stands), the Gladues, Augustine and Jeremy, Sr., Jeremy Jr. and Jerome, Roderick McKenzie, Billie Hopgood and the Thompson family.
While living north of Tofield, Roe purchased a pair of tamed Canada Geese from C. Oulton. This pair increased over the years to a flock of forty and were an unusual sight in a farmyard. They liked water, and the creek being dry, they flew to a slough on the Neil Phillips’ farm. Though Roe promptly clipped their wings they refused to stay home – they walked back in single file the mile to the slough. Eventually after 15 – 18 years, they became annoyed at cattle being fed too near and flew away.
Roe recalls the trials of early travel, the poor roads, the log bridges. He also remembers (with more pleasure) the baseball games, the dances, the coyote hunts engaged in by the pioneers.
Roenza. and Emery Phillips are the only two survivors of the original Phillips family.
THE PLANTS FAMILY
Charles Plants and his wife, the former Effie MacPherson, were born and raised in the small community of Winnfield, Iowa. Charles was born in 1867, the year of Canadian Confederation.
A few years after their marriage they drove in a covered wagon to the State of Oklahoma, where a tract of land known as the Cherokee Strip was being opened for settlement. After living near the town of Pawnee for six or seven years, they came to Alberta.
So in the year 1906 the couple and their four children arrived at the town of Wetaskiwin, Alberta, after a tedious train trip of two weeks. Shortly after that they moved to what is now the city of Camrose but which at that time was only a small community.
Charles Plants was a carpenter and helped build some of the earliest structures in Camrose, but in 1907 the family moved again, this time to Tofield, which had only then been declared a village. Again, Charles Plants helped construct some of the earliest buildings of the village, including the old Queen’s Hotel.
In 1909, the family moved to a homestead southwest of Tofield in the Woodlawn district. Charles, however, continued his carpenter work and had a hand in the construction of many of the older, as well as the later buildings in the town and surrounding district.
Altogether, the Plants family consisted of four sons and one daughter, the youngest son being born after the family arrived in Alberta. One son, Gerald, was killed in action duty in France, with the 50th battalion of the Canadian Infantry to which he had been transferred from the “202’s”. Two other sons, Arlo and Irvin died while in their early manhood. The daughter, Zoe, married R.C. Phillips, the son of another early pioneer family of the Tofield district. She and her husband raised three sons, but she, too, passed on while a comparatively young woman.
Mrs. Plants lived to the age of seventy-six and was quite active till shortly before her death. Charles Plants lived to be eighty-seven and continued active work until a few years before his death. The youngest son, Clifford, died early in 1968.
THE PRUDEN FAMILY
The material for this account is taken from a family history compiled by James M. Reed of Toronto in 1955. Mr. Reed is a descendant of the Prudens.
John Peter Pruden, the great-grandfather of Mrs. Herman Tiedemann and Mrs. Frank Kortzman was born in Edmonton, Middlesex, England in 1778. (Pruden’s birthplace, Edmonton, is now part of greater London). When he came to Canada he brought with him the name for the future capital of Alberta – that of his own birthplace.
Pruden entered the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1791 as an apprentice; later, at York Factory he became a writer for the Hudson’s Bay Company.
In 1795 he was clerk for George Sutherland, the factor at the H.B.C. post on the banks of the North Saskatchewan. In 1807, this fort was destroyed by fire, but in 1808, it was rebuilt twenty miles downstream from its original site. Here it was to grow into the City of Edmonton, a name suggested by Pruden to the Chief Factor.
From 1808 – 1824, Pruden was in charge of Carlton House where, in 1821, he was made Chief Trader. In 1825-1826 he was placed in charge of Norway House but later returned to Carlton House where he was promoted to Chief Factor in 1836. In 1837, Pruden retired and lived in the Red River Settlement where he served for a time as a member of the Council of Assiniboia. He died on May 30, 1868, at the age of ninety.
John Peter Pruden had seven children: William, Charlotte, Peter, James, Cornelius, John and Caroline.
The third son, James, the grandfather of Mrs.Tiedemann and Mrs. Kortzman, was born in the Northwest Territories in 1820. He married a woman from the Peace River district who is recorded as Geneve; she was born in 1821 and died in 1914 at the age of ninety-three.
James Pruden left for the Oregon Territory early in the 1850’s with a group from the Red River Settlement, led by James Sinclair but later returned to the Edmonton district where he filed on a homestead on the west side of Beaverhill Lake, thus becoming one of the first settlers in the Tofield area. James Pruden died on January 13, 1902 and was buried in the St. James, the Apostle-Newton-Logan cemetery seven miles northwest of Tofield. This was the Anglican cemetery usually referred to as the Logan cemetery; the land for the cemetery had been donated to the Anglican Church by Mr. Pruden.
James Pruden had ten children: The oldest boy John Edward, was born June 3, 1852. He married Eliza Rowland and they had nine children – Flora (Mrs. Kortzman); Bill, who died during the 1918 influenza epidemic; Ned, killed in action in World War I; Archibald, who died in 1958, leaving a reputation as a boxer during his service in the Armed Forces; Carrie; Walter also killed in World War I, Emma; John and Joe.
Charles, another son of James Pruden, was born Feb. 7, 1856. He had four children: One of his daughters, Annie, married Lawrence MacKenzie of Tofield.
Maria, James Pruden’s daughter, was born Nov. 22, 1857 and died in 1955, aged 98 years. Married to George Kennedy, she lived in the H.B.C. house in Edmonton, near the site of the Legislative Buildings in Edmonton.
A news item from the Winnipeg Free Press of Monday Nov.3, 1935, states:
“Edmonton pioneer traces her roots back to another Edmonton, Fort Edmonton was named after her grandfather’s birthplace in England. Her husband named Grand Prairie. Her home may be the oldest dwelling in Edmonton. It was built 68 years ago by her husband, the late George Kennedy. This pioneer of pioneers is 97 years old.”
Another of James Pruden’s daughters was Margaret Ann, born Dec.31,1859. She married Henry Fraser, fur trader for the H.B.C.; she died April 16, 1956, aged ninety-six.
A third daughter, Elizabeth Jane, (born Dec. 18, 1861, died July 13, 1952) married Joseph Norn (1862 – 1914). They had five children: Adeline who married Roy Foss in the little St. James-Newton-Logan Church on Oct 31, 1907, Frank, and Sophia, who married Steve Hafner; Alice who married Martin Hafner, and Lily who married Herman Tiedemann. The Tiedemanns had five sons, Walter, James, Marvin, Joe and Floyd.
Another son, Frank., born May 1, 1865, married Annie MacKenzie and had four children: Olive, Marvin, Ivy and Holden.
The fourth daughter of James Pruden, Caroline, born April 25, 1869, married George Pace Jones, a former member of the R.N.W.M.P. They had nine children: Harry, Lillian; Mary; Albert (Bert) who farmed north of Tofield until his death a few years ago; Maude; Grace; Maggie, Elsie; and Vernie.
Still another daughter, Sophia Maria, born Sept.15, 1871, married George Norris. Their five children were: James, Henry, Rose, Beatrice and Clara. Frederick, the youngest son of James Pruden, was born June 1, 1876 and died at the age of twelve.
Back to top