Steele Family History & Genealogy

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  • Thomas 1.1%
  • Richard 0.9%
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  • Walter 0.6%
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Jane Hettum I am the granddaughter of WZG Steele. WZG Steele was married to Lydia Sloop. They ran a store and dairy in Metzger, Oregon after they moved from Svenson, Oregon. William had been a teacher in Knapp, a small town near Svenson, before he moved his family to Metzger, Oregon. The house that William and Lydia built with the help of their older children eventually housed 13 children, two parents and the sister of Lydia. This house is still in Metzger and is being renovated by the new owners. I'm searching for any pictures or stories that are around of this house and family that originally lived there. There was a picture of William and Lydia in the Metzger Park for many years but has been removed. I'm especially interested in finding this picture. I have the address of the house and the owners are definitly interested in any and all information that they can collect. I wish to be in contact with anyone that has any information concerning any and all of the WZG Steele history and geneology. I'm also interested in any and all information concerning the Lydia Sloop geneology. Thank You Jane Hettum [contact link]
Mar 21, 2009 · Reply
Joan Miller This account was passed to me by Thomas' grandson Brien Steele.

The Story of two Orphans
Thomas Baldwin Steele & George Richard Steele became orphans around 1890 after Thomas Steele Sr. death and Mother Elizabeth had left with sister Ethel. They were the children of Thomas Steele Sr. and Elizabeth Edwards. Thomas & George were sent to Chase Farms Orphanage Enfield, Middlesex County England. They left England March 7 1895 on SS Vancouver and arrived in Halifax Nova Scotia March 28 1895 and were sent to Marchmont Home in Bellville Ontario Canada.
Adventures of an Orphan Adventures of two orphan brothers George Richard Steele & Thomas Baldwin Steele. The following is an autobiography written by George Richard Steele. Just outside the hustle and bustle of the noisy city, on a not too much travelled road, stands a modern, quaint bungalow. Not one of the expensive type, as are sometimes found in residential sections of larger communities, just a real cozy up-to-date home. It was about the middle of winter. The sun had passed down below the horizon, the wind was rising and the heavy fall snow assured me that we would undoubtedly have no callers that evening, so I pulled my favorite old easy chair toward the open warm fireplace and prepared to spend the balance of my evening absorbed in reading. I had not, however, been in that position very long before the doorbell announced the arrival of guest. We usually had guest each evening during the winter months and were always ready and eager to entertain. I answered the ring and found the presence of two of our city friends who we had not seen for some time. After the usual exchange of greetings, commenting upon the coldness of the weather, current events and social happenings, our conversation drifted somewhat by my friend asking me how I happened to be in the position I am, with such a fine family and surroundings. After a short pause, I replied-- It is a long story, the story of my life. It brings back to memory many scenes which I possibly may never have the opportunity of again witnessing. I will try and tell you just what happened. I was born in London England, in the late eighties. A brother Thomas, five years my senior; a sister Ethel, two years my junior,
and father and mother comprised the happy family. Our home, small but neat, was located in the business section of old historic London. Father was poor, not being able to provide many of the necessary articles needed in a home, but he and mother, however, by careful management and supervision, succeeded in keeping the little family together. Father a barber and conducted a small shop on the
ground floor of the building in which we lived upstairs
His business was very dull but we lived happily until one
day Mother took little sister Ethel and both disappeared,
leaving Father, Tom and I to get our own meals, do our
own housework and look out for ourselves the best we could.
With no mother to look out for us; with father in the shop
all day and evenings, Tom and I were thrown practically into
the streets, vacant lots or wherever we could find a place
to play. Then is the time we should have started an
education, but no one forced us to do so, so it was
neglected. Things ran along like that for some time, until one evening
Tom was brought home. He had been run down by a team of horses
hitched to a heavy trucking wagon. His arm was broken.
He was taken to the hospital. Although I was small at the time,
I remember Tom calling for Mother and asking how long it would
be before she came back to us. In a very few days Father was
taken ill and died. Late that afternoon, a man and woman drove
up in front of the house, took us away and we were placed in an Orphan Home. Neither Tom nor I was allowed to attend Father's funeral service which followed within a few days.
This Orphan's Home was also connected to a large farm school, in fact, one of the largest in that part of the country. I never can forget the scene impressed upon me at that time. The school was surrounded by high brick wall with sharp iron fencing on top, making it nearly impossible for one to escape. A driveway onto the grounds was guarded by heavy iron gate which clanged as it closed behind us. It resembled one of our state prison walls and gate. We were now shut off entirely from the outside world. Never again to see our father, or old home and possibly Mother or sister Ethel. Tom was placed in the boy's ward, while I was admitted to the children's ward, along with hundreds of other poor unfortunate lads. Days were very long and lonely; seemingly that everyone had turned against us. We were sent to bed at eight o’clock and awakened at six in the morning. Our meals were served on long narrow tables, no chairs, long benches taking the place for seating, We were spoken to only once and if we did not give proper attention to what was told us, we were reminded by severe punishment. I remember, one day, I dropped a few bread crumbs upon the floor by accident, nothing was said about it until when we marched from the tables to the corridor, where a guard or attendant stood.
He had seen me drop the crumbs and without a word, I was given a slap on the side of the head which sent me sailing feet end up into the side of the grey wall. Our meals consisted of bread and molasses with occasionally a helping and a very small one at that of beans. After breakfast we were permitted a few minutes recreation. Every morning we marched to the washroom, inspected by a guard, and those who needed it were given a handful of soft soap applied to the back of the neck. The orphan was supposed to finish the cleaning operation and come out clean. In case we did not pass that rigid investigation, we were given another cuff and sent back for more soap and water. Our playground out doors was a vast asphalted yard. There were no trees or flowers and only the companionship of the other boys thrown in with us.
I was not permitted to see my brother, Tom, unless penalty should be dealt to both of us, but sometimes Tom took the chance and came to see me. After we had been there about four years, Tom decided that he wished to get out of that institution and go to Canada, taking me along with him, as each year a there were large numbers of orphans sent there and another load was soon to be transported. I had no more idea what Canada was than I had about Heaven. I did not know whether it was a place somewhere or something good to eat, so after Tom told me that it was a large country like England, where there were large tall trees, beautiful flowers and lawns, tall buildings, and best of all, plenty of fresh pure air, I began to think and wonder if it was possible for me to ever see the place. My hopes were now enlighted. I would at least the new "world", little realizing what hardships I might encounter. I had become much attached to all my boy companions and playmates and had learned to like them. It would be very hard to part, but if there was freedom across the deep blue waters, I was, Tom’s protection (for Tom was my mainstay now), ready to undertake the trip. A few days passed, when Tom came in on the sly, and informed me that there be an examination in the near future, which if satisfactorily passed would permit me to leave. He coached me a bit, telling me what questions probably would be asked of me and how for me to answer them; then Tom quietly slipped back to the boy's ward. The morning for the examination arrived. Tom and I had been chosen as two of the lucky ones to go. Tom was given permission to bring me before the board for questioning. All the members of the board were officers of the orphan's home. I was asked if I wished to leave England and go to Canada, and if so, for what purpose. I replied that I did wish to leave for the new land where opportunities would enable me to work for and earn my own living. Imagine a small youngster like me offering that remark. There I was, small, puny and frail and could hardly see over the top of the desk where the man asking the questions sat. They looked at me and asked if I did not think myself rather small for such an adventure and experience, but I explained that my brother Tom would look after me and protect me and I thought we would be able to manage all right. We were dismissed. Sent back to our respective wards and I soon forgot about that new promised land in the following days and weeks. It all had seemed like a dream and I gradually was back at my daily routine of work and play with my companions. Days came and passed. Lonesomeness became greater, my heart seemed heavier and everything was dark and discouraging until one day Tom came down the corridor shouting, George! George! We are going to Canada sure as can be. Get you coat and hat and hurry- run fast with me! Excited in boy fashion, I hardly knew what to do or say, but it did not take me long to follow Tom's instructions and his footsteps. I bade farewell to my companions who stood with tears in their eyes as I left them. An attendant called us to order. We marched to an upper room, given a change of clothes, ordered to pack our clothes and belongings (I had only a small tin box of trinkets) then we were Marched out of the building into the fresh air, and I never forget, how sweet and pure that air did smell. The heavy gate closed behind us with a bang. Once more we were free. We were placed aboard a train for Liverpool, thence on a boat for Halifax, Nova Scotia. I do not remember the name of the ship but I do distinctly remember it having four red smokestacks. The trip across the great Atlantic was made in twelve days. The first few days were pleasant but as we neared deeper water it began to get stormy, sweeping people overboard. The ship tossed about from one side to the other. The latter part of the trip was calm and enjoyable. The twelve days, although being a short time, seemed like years to us. All the youngsters were planning what they would do the first thing when they arrived on land. One would do this and the other would do that. We had fine food and were treated very kindly by all on ship. I being about the smallest one on board, possibly had preference when it came to favours and petting. Anyway, I got along with the crew. Upon arriving in Halifax we were placed on a Train for Belleville Ontario Canada, where we were taken directly to the Marchmont Home, a much smaller one than we had in England. This house was a large brick building, surrounded by large green lawns and beautiful flower gardens, all being enclosed with a board fence. On this lawn I picked the first flowers I had ever seen. They were dandelions but as pretty and fragrant to me then as a rose would be today. We were free to roam and come and go as we wished, as long as we kept within bounds and the board fence. There was a feeling of liberty, freedom- no heavy gates to clang when they closed, or to bar us from the outside world. We were here assigned to large, airy sleeping rooms and playgrounds. Mr. and Mrs. Wallace had charge of the institution and sure were very nice people. Our stay here lasted about six weeks, when one day two parties wrote in for two boys to go out on farms. Tom and I were selected to take the trip. Mr. and Mrs Wallace gave each of us a small Testament, trunk for our clothing, and a few trinkets and tokens for remembrance, and also made us sign a pledge that we would abstain from all intoxicating beverages and tobacco 9 and to this day I have never forgotten what we at that time pledged Mr. and Mrs Wallace, who sent us on the upright path to success. We were now sent out into the world ourselves, being placed on the steams ship Hero down the Bellville Bay into the Bay of Quinty and finally landed at Adolphustown Ontario. We were met there by a very tall man who drove a team of coal black horses hitched to an old lumber wagon. A board was fastened across the back serving as an extra seat. The road was rough and the springs in the old wagon were few and far between. Tom and I were perched upon the back seat when suddenly the team became frightened and unmanageable, dashing outside of the road and into a tree. Fortunately no serious damage was done and we were soon on our way after a few minor repairs. At last the man stopped and informed us that Tom was to remain there, while I was to go on with him to another farmhouse five miles farther to make my future home. This was our first separation. Many tears were shed and fond farewells exchanged. Although five miles is not far nowadays with cars, it was a long distance to me then. Eventually I arrived at the Dorland home about dusk. A middle-aged lady stood in the open doorway awaiting us told us that the evening meal was ready. I do not remember the bill of fare for that meal. All I could think of was Tom and our separation. I was very much broken up but finally managed to eat a little and trudged off to my bed early, crying myself to sleep. This was the starting point of my career. I now realized I was practically alone in the big world, my Father dead, Mother and sister Ethel somewhere unknown to me, and brother Tom five miles away. I knew I must try and brace myself and do the best I could, or I might be sent back to the Home. The next morning I arose, ate a hearty breakfast and started out, having had instructions of what my work was to consist. As luck would have it, two other boys were here from the same Home with me, and naturally, I being the smallest was favoured to some extent, if it might be called such, for I did not get much of the heavy work. Mostly housework, washing dishes, carrying water for the family wash, scrubbing floors, besides care of the hens and two small pigs. Well I stuck it out at that place a little over two and a half years. Never received money of any description for any of my services, in fact I did not even know what money looked like or what buying value it held. As time passed, the other two boys were able to do the work alone so my services were no longer needed. I was released and went into town to a man named Murray who conducted a small tavern or hotel at Hobson's Corner. He was very poor and could not afford to pay me any money so I worked at odd jobs for my board and room. My clothes were getting thin and ragged and Mr. Murray took me back to Mr. and Mrs. Wallace at the home, who were to keep me until I was again called for. I was there possibly a little better than two months and let out to a Mr. Graham at Thomasburg, way back in the wilds, twenty-five miles from civilization, on a very large farm, an old log house, where I was to remain until I was twenty-one years of age. I had then lost all track of Tom and he had also lost my location. I had to work hard both winter and summer. Had to go barefoot all summer. Did not receive the best of food nor the best of treatment for my services, was not permitted to attend school only about three days during the whole year. All the time I was at that place I received two pence, for walking six miles to the nearest village blacksmith shop to get a piece of iron welded. This was the first money I ever had in my possession. I worked hard for it, and to this day I have those two pennies and occasionally get them out and look at them, only to bring back old time memories, and often I wonder what youngsters of today would do if they had to go through the hardships as I did to obtain the small amount. After I had been with Mr. Graham about three years, I was very much surprised one day to see a fellow running up the road. It was Tom. He had secured information from Marchmont Home of my whereabouts and as soon as he was able, made3 the trip to me. I was glad to see him again and Mr. Graham permitted him to stay nearly two weeks, then told him he would have to leave. It was during Tom's stay with me that we planned in another year, to run away and shift for ourselves. Tom was large enough and old enough to be earning fairly good wages. Time passed on. Winter again made its appearance and some snow had fallen. Tom again made a visit to the Graham Homestead, this time to take me away with him. Mr. Graham was at neighbor's house when we started out the back door. He however, saw us and started after us, catching me by the coat collar. There was quite a bit of fight in Tom at that time and he dived into Mr. Graham and I was soon freed. Then Mr. Graham came after us with a big black snake whip, but we were younger than he and soon were over a fence and on our way across a large field. He followed us a short distance but soon became tired out and began to swear at us, telling us to go to ---. Well we did not know where we were going but thought at that moment we might just as well be in that place as at the hands of that Mr. Graham. He gave up the chase but we kept running for the next five miles. We finally approached a lumbering camp, just a small place where the train stopped to take on water. My legs were small and I easily tired out from our encounter. Tom also beginning to weaken. I fell in front of the camp but Tom picked me up and carried me inside and we were permitted to remain there overnight. The lumbermen were very rough looking and we afterward found out that they were a gang of outlaws and gamblers. They were, however, very good to us, treated us kindly, giving us plenty of good food, a good place to sleep, and in the morning took up a collection of money and tendered to us which we accepted with heartfelt thanks and trudged onward to the railroad station. We had no idea where we were going but Tweed, being the nearest station, we decided to give that town a trial. This did not suit us, so we boarded the next train out for Deseranto, thence we walked across the ice on Hay Bay and sought refuge in the home of Mrs. Mallory, an old lady whose son had died only a short time previous to our arrival. We were to cut wood, do chores and odd jobs around the house, for our room and board, until the weather opened up so we could start further south. Mrs. Mallory was a kind old lady and treated us as she would an own son. We were with her a little better than two months. Spring came again and we started out, seeking a place in what is called the front section near the Bay of Quinty. Here I landed my first job with real money. I was to get twenty-four dollars for seven months work, which included room and board and washing, but I had to buy my own clothes. Tom left me there and went back to where he was working before the fight with Mr. Graham. He was only about ten miles from me now. In the fall I had to seek another place, as the harvest seasons was over and my seven months was up. I was more fortunate the next time, hiring out to a Mr. Ellison at fifty dollars for a whole years work.Time, however, passed very slowly at that place but I stuck out my time. One day I received a letter from Tom telling me that he was in the United States and explaining when my time with Mr. Ellison was up, he would come after me and we would both go to the States to make our future home. I knew what London was. I knew what Canada was now I was very anxious to know what the new land of the States might be and what opportunities presented themselves for our advancements and fortunes. With a bright picture in my mind of the future, I decided to do my best and make the remainder of my stay in Canada a success. Deferret, New York was my first mainland stay in the United States, Tom had married and settled down in town and had employment in one of the large paper mills. I used to remain at the mill through the day and wait for Tom to go home at night. One day a man saw me laying under one of the benches and asked who I was. Upon being told that I was an orphan boy, he immediately felt sorry for me and remarked that he would take me home with him and make a home for me. From then on, all the time I was with him, he treated me as he did any of his own children. He only had eight others. I soon had employment with this man, for he was erecting a new house. He furnished me work all winter. Time passed rapidly now. I was getting better acquainted and the thought that my brother Tom was near by encouraged me. When springtime arrived, I was on another large farm owned by Mr. Vrooman of Deferret. I had hired out to him for ten dollars a month. That one hundred and twenty dollars a year looked good to me after what I had been receiving, and in the contract I was allowed the privilege of attending the small country school, about a mile from the farm. It all seemed a dream to me. Everything was lovely for a time. Of course I was rather behind in my schooling, never before having had the chance of obtaining a good education, but I kept on did the best I could and often had I heard, in a roundabout way, remarks made by teacher, that I was making progress.
Then things seemed to drag. I began to loose interest in schoolwork and everything else. Even Mr. Vrooman could see a difference in my farm-work,
and thinking I might be ill, suggested that he drive old Dobbin down to get the family doctor to attend my ailments. I told Mr. Vrooman that I would be all right in a day or two, that I thought it only temporary. Of course I knew all the time what it was that ailed me, although I did not tell everybody. Instead of getting better, I was daily getting worse, seemingly hopeless, until one afternoon after school, Mr. Vrooman saw me walking home from school with his neighbor's only daughter, Laura. I will never forget the expression upon his face. If my brother Tom had been there at that time, I am certain I never would have heard the last of it. Even Mr. Vrooman reminded me of it later in the evening. There I was a typical, barefoot country boy, an old wide brim straw hat, tattered and torn, perched on one side of my head shading my tanned, freckled face, and long locks of sandy hair emerging from there under. My trousers were of knee length variety, baggy at the knees, a large hole on one side and a patch on the other side of the seat. The pockets bulging under the load of fishhooks, sinkers, tops and a full assortment of the necessary articles usually found in the average schoolboy's collection. Alongside of me, toddled Laura, a rosy cheeked, light haired, dimpled, blushing schoolgirl. She wore as I remember her then, a homemade gingham dress of pink, trimmed with a pretty shade of blue which was a perfect match to here eyes. The longer I attended the Country School, the stronger my affections for Laura grew. Night after night, she allowed me permission to carry her books home from school. We usually took the longest way home and that always seem too short. We would spend our Sunday afternoons gathering flowers in the woods or walk to some quiet brook. On these trips we had a chance to plan our future. I saved thirty dollars and we thought we could get quite a start on that amount in those days. Some people might have called that a childs courtship. I will try to explain what it was.
My year at Mr. Vrooman's had expired. Once more the roaming spirit called me and without farewells to either Mr. Vrooman or my sweetheart, I journeyed back to Canada, found Mr. Griffiths, the man whom I had first worked for at three dollars a month, and he offered me one hundred dollars to remain with him for seven months. I was man grown, by that time and able to do a good days work. I remained the seven months, although the time did not pass very rapidly. I still had affectionate thoughts of Laura. I had saved nearly all of my wages and as opportunity presented itself, it did not take me long to get back to the United States and the girl I left behind. Upon returning, there was a welcome gathering in my honor. Laura's and my courtship days were renewed. I soon found employment in the Deferret paper mills office at a very good salary. I was with those people over seven years. During that time, Laura and I were married. Shortly afterward, coming to live here in Oswego. You can see the result- a good home, a good business, a car, and best of all, a family of fine children. Although, undoubtedly my Mother has been dead many years, I never heard from my sister Ethel and do not know her whereabouts. My brother Thomas is living here in Oswego.
Jun 15, 2009 · Reply