I reunite identified family photos that I find in antique shops and second hand stores with genealogists and family historians. If you see one of your ancestors here and would like to obtain the original, feel free to contact me at familyphotoreunion [ at ] yahoo [ dot ] com. I hope you enjoy your visit!
~The Archivist

Friday, September 7, 2012

Another Boy Lost: Two-Year-Old Hugh James McKerracher, Circa 1920-1925, Ontario or Manitoba

I haven't posted a postcard portrait here on FPR for a while.   I've been avoiding this one because, in my premilinary research, I had issues with the surname.  On the reverse is the following note, written by May "MacHerracher."  At least that's how I read her handwriting.  When an author writes their own surname, I'm inclined to go with their spelling as they, of all people, would know the correct one.

So this one befuddled me, because May appears to spell her last name with MAC.  But I even had an issue with the K.  It looked to me like she was spelling MacHerracher, which is a fairly uncommon variant of McKerracher.  I searched for any MacHerrachers in Ancestry.ca and came up with a sum total of two hits.  I tried McHerracher.  Four hits.  Anywhere.  The Library and Archives Canada Genealogy site came up with zero for both MacHerracher and McHerracher.

So I went with my instinct.  In my paper notes I had been "misspelling" the name I saw on the postcard consistently as McKerracher.   I conceded that perhaps I was reading May's 'K' as an 'H' erroneously.  Her handwriting is quite swirly.   I clearly see "Mac," though.  I tried the search as MacKerracher (again, nothing great showed up).  However, when I tried McKerracher, I found one possibility.

My first hit was on the www.canadaatwar.ca website.   Hugh James McKerracher, a sergeant with Royal Winnipeg Rifles died July 5, 1944 and is buried at Beny-sur-mer Canadian War Cemetery in Normandy.  He probably died at the Battle for Caen. 

My next stop was Library and Archives Canada Second World War Service Files: Canadian Armed Forces War Dead record for Hugh James McKerracher.  His mother is listed in the index as E. Mae McKerracher of Arnprior, Ontario.

According to  the Manitoba Marriage Index (Reg# 1919, 033167) Elisabeth May Kennedy married Lester Hugh James McKerracher in Winnipeg, Manitoba on the 18th of June 1919.  As we are just out of reach of available birth records because of the 100-year-old rule, I couldn't find Hugh James McKerracher's birth online at the Manitoba Vital Records site.  Nor are there any censuses available that cover this time period in Canada.

So is this the correct Hugh James McKerracher?  Did this young boy die as a young man on the battlefield in France in 1944?  It is a possibility, but with all of this name confusion we can't be sure.   I also don't know what May's connection might have been with Vancouver.  It sounds as if she may have lived there at one time.   We're open to theories, folks.  Let me know if you have a lead, clue or hunch that we might follow.


  1. I can see why you find this one so frustrating. Its like double vision - things you can find just seem a little off... but the overall "shape" seems to fit.

    I find it odd that only the mother is listed on the Find-A-Grave record.

    Elisabeth M Kennedy (June 1897) is shown in a family tree on ancestry.com - daughter of Archibald and and Jane Isabelle Thompson (and lived in Dufferin, Lisgar and MacDonald Manitoba). If this was her, it would explain the Winnipeg Rifles. It appears after she married Lester, she moved East to Arnprior, Ontario. You might contact the tree owner -

    I find the formality of the addressee, "Miss Moore", at odds with the Annie - then the switch back to Miss Archibald. I can't make out the other name, Dollie?

    Who are these people? :) I assumed Annie was a sister, but that does not appear to be the case.

  2. I found a number of references to McKerracher. They seem to be an old Arnprior family. There is a JH McKerracher who is a harness maker in Arnprior in 1875. There are still McKerracher's in the area.

    The Lanark County Genealogical Society lists a JW McKerracher living in Seattle. Find A Grave also lists his death date as 1924. That might be some of the Vancouver connection.

    The McKerracher name also seems quite common in Winnipeg and area. I found an obit for a George William McKerracher, who was born in Manitoba back in 1915, on the Winnipeg Free Press Passages site.

    I've saved the best for last. An Ancestry member posted the following to the MacKeracher Message Board:

    "McKerracher, Lester Hugh James -- In hospital Arnprior, Friday, July 18, 1969, in his 90th year, Lester McKerracher of 190 Bell Street, Arnprior, husband of Elizabeth MacKennedy; predeceased by one son Hugh James, brother of Harold, Dewey, Ted and Bee, all of Arnprior and Goldie (Mrs. O'Hara), Montreal. Resting Boyce Funeral Home, Arnprior. Service in the chapel Monday at 10.30 a.m. Interment Arnprior cemetery." This could be the father of the boy in your picture.

  3. Might this be "them"?


  4. Thanks, James, for the info on the Arnprior McKerrachers...the obituary is most definitely for the father of Hugh James McKerracher who died in WW2. I don't know what to make of the census Iggy has sent, though. James and Marjory McKerracher in the 1930 US Census in Highland Park, Michigan, both Canadian-born with their son Hugh... They came to the US in 1926, around the time Hugh was born. Oh, boy. Could be him, too. Marjory could be May. I wonder what this Hugh's middle name is.

  5. His shoes appear to be laced very tightly...his little pudgy legs almost balloon over the shoe tops. I would think that could be uncomfortable.

  6. I hadn't noticed that, but you are right. I hope they were just big fluffy stockings and it just looks as if his circulation is being cut off. Ouch!

  7. Okay, so I figured out a way to narrow down the date of this card. The AZO postcard has four squares in the stamp portion of the card. That means the postcard was produced sometime between 1925 and 1940. So we're looking for a Hugh James McKerracher born 1923 or after. The postcard was also manufactured in Canada, so this would suggest that at the time the photo was taken, Hugh James was in Canada. Unfortunately, this doesn't exclude either of our candidates with the information that we currently have.

  8. There is currently a photo up for grabs on ebay for MR and MRS JAMES McKERRACHER Sr (not Jr) May 16 1887 taken in Ridgetown, Ontario. Another possibility! Good luck.

  9. I am currently transcribing a series of letters written to my aunt during WWI by Lester Hugh James McKerracher who I believe was this boy's father. Lester was Canadian sales rep for Simmons Hardware, based in St Louis, MO. so he spent a lot of time in the US. If there are still McKerrachers in Arnprior, I would like to contact them.

  10. The Census posted above is the wrong family.

    Hugh James McKerracher was the son Of Lestor Hugh James McKerracher of Arnprior and Elizabeth May Kennedy. Lestor's parents were James Hill McKerracher of Perth, Ontario. and 1st wife Eliza Munroe.

    Hugh James was a Sergeant in the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, RCIC.

    His Attestation says he lived at 259 Glenwood Crescent in Winnipeg.

    Surviving family hard to say - but Lestor's half brother Theodore's son Bernard in Arnprior has children.

    One is Kerry McKerracher of Yellowknife.