Sunday, August 22, 2010

Alexander's sister, Margaret Anderson

Now that we are in the area that surrounds modern-day Westbank, it is time for me to direct you to another piece of Anderson-Seton family history.
Alexander Caulfield Anderson had a younger sister named Margaret, born in Stratford, Essex, on the 31st March, 1817.

She would have been only a teenager when she moved with her family to Georgina, Lake Simcoe, in 1831.
In the early 1850,'s she wrote her brother Alexander, who was now settled at Cathlamet on the north bank of the Columbia River, that she planned to set up a schoolhouse.
Anderson immediately invited her to come by ship to the Columbia, to teach his children and Birnie's many children.
The adventurous Margaret packed up her bags and, with her brother William acting as her chaperone, boarded a ship for the Columbia River.

To Anderson's surprise, she soon married William Henry Tappan, a man who he described as "a rather superior man."
Tappan had been acting as Indian subagent in 1855 when Governor Stevens travelled around Eastern Washington to set up new reservations just before the onset of the Yakima Indian Wars.
When the wars broke out, Stevens and his men, including Tappan, quickly retreated to Fort Vancouver for safety.
That is where W. H. Tappan met Margaret Anderson and married her.

Tappan was an early settler at the town of St. Helen's, north of Fort Vancouver; he was an artist and designed the original seal of Washington Territory.
He was also a member of the First Legislature of Washington Territory.
The first session convened in Olympia, Washington, on February 27, 1854 and adjourned May 1st of the same year; whether Tappan was a member of this first sitting is unknown.

It appears that in 1860 the Tappans lived in Clark County, Washington; a few years later they were in Portland.
Margaret wrote a letter to her younger brother in Ontario in 1862, saying: "It is a bad plan to give away to laziness about writing as it grows on one, as it has on Alek (her brother Alexander, our protagonist).
"You must not think he does not care about you for indeed he does.
"When I was at Victoria, more than a year ago now, he [was] sick for a few days and one day was delirious.
"He was talking all the time about his mother, and calling on how at one time [?], fancying himself a boy again.
"It made me cry to hear him talk.
"He has [his] own troubles and a very serious trouble in business matters, when he was Collector at Victoria, caused by the dishonesty of his Clerk.
"When matters were investigated not a shadow of blame was cast on him...
"Still it was a great trouble to him and preyed on his mind for some time, for he is morbidly sensitive.
"When I went over and asked him why he had not written to me for so long, he said he did not know how it was but he had taken a distaste to writing."
I'm sorry, but you will have to read the book before you discover what so distressed Anderson.

Margaret's next letter is written in 1864 from Colorado City, California Territory, to her brother in Ontario (California Territory was a massive territory that covered California and many other western American states south of the Oregon Territory).
The Tappans became store owners and for a few years had stores in Denver, Golden, and Colorado City.
By all our records, Margaret died in Colorado Territory on 11th April, 1867, and William Henry Tappan returned to his home in the east to marry another woman.
That should be the end of Margaret's story -- but it is not.

Enter a new character -- a young Englishwoman named Susan Moir who came to Victoria in the early 1860's from Fort Hope, working as a schoolteacher and governness.
In an earlier posting, you have already read Susan Moir's description of the brigades coming into Fort Hope.
In Victoria, some of her good friends were Anderson's daughters, and Susan also knew Anderson well and considered him a friend.
She married John Fall Allison, a Britisher who arrived in British Columbia in 1858 and received a number of government contracts to open and improve roads in the southern interior.
Susan and John Allison married in 1868, living in the town of Princeton and also, for a short time, on the west side of Okanagan Lake where present day Westbank stands.
Her recollections are still in print, under the title: A Pioneer Gentlewoman in British Columbia: The Recollections of Susan Allison, edited by Margaret Ormsby and published in 1976 by UBC Press.
In this book, Susan Allison wrote: "I think that it was in the spring of 1877 that one morning when we had finished milking that we took our horses and went off to visit a colony of ants that the children took a great interest in.
"They first took a pickle bottle and put some small red ants in it, also some bread crumbs soaked in whisky.
"They were going to try experiments...
"Then came a chorus of laughter and looking up I saw to my surprise my old friend, Mr. Anderson and Mr. [Gilbert Malcolm] Sproat and a lady with them.
"The lady was Mr. Anderson's sister, Mrs. Tarbold, I think her name was.
"I had never seen her before, but I was so happy to meet by old friend again...
"Mr. Sproat and Mr. Anderson were the Commissioners to settle Indian affairs and had business with Saul and his tribe, so they only paid me a flying visit, but it was a nice treat for I saw so few people."

The year is right; Anderson and Sproat would have been travelling together down Great Okanagan Lake settling the native reserves.
But if Margaret Tappan was dead by 1867, who was the woman who was riding with the two Commissioners?

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