Thursday, November 27, 2008

As told with fondness by grandson Dick Wright


My grandparents Harriet and Nelson Perry (left) take me out for a walk, winter 1938. It was a tough job, but they seemed to want to do it. In the photo to the right they posed for a formal portrait in 1890. They also posed for the camera (below right) on the occasion of their first date in 1878. With them are Nelson's brother Robert and his wife Charlotte and Harriet's brother Robert Peck (all seated) and his wife Charity (standing to Nelson's right).  Incidentally, Charlotte and Harriet were sisters.

Harriet and Nelson Perry:
Humble beginnings but a rich life

Ten dollars was a huge sum for Ingersoll born Sidney Nelson Perry, 18, to invest in homemaking when he ignored the objections of parents and married pretty 17-year-old Harriet Peck of Tillsonburg. On the diamond jubilee of that wedding, December 27, 1938, he admitted before five daughters, four sons and 22 grandchildren that his earlier bank-breaking investment was a pretty sound one.
The young couple supplemented that small outlay with an abundance of courage, faith and hard work over the course of the next 62 years. Their first home was in Oxford County near Ingersoll where Nelson worked "dawn to after dark" earning $150.00 a year clearing bush for pioneering settlement.
Entrepreneurial blood was in his veins, however, and Nelson moved Harriet and by now several children to Camlache (on Lake Huron), then Brigden in Lambton County and later Courtright (the St. Clair River) where he worked in the meat butchering business. With six of their nine children still in tow, the Perrys came to Dresden in 1905 where they established a family-run bakery and general store. See photos
After retirement, they moved to Detroit with their two youngest daughters, Beth and Grace, to be closer to several older sons and daughters who had previously settled there. When Grace married Kenneth Wright in 1932, they moved "back home" to live with the newlyweds in the Wright homestead on Sydenham Street in Dresden.
Wherever they lived, however, you could depend on at least four family gatherings a year -- Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving with annual summer reunions thrown in for good measure. Laughter, hugs and good food being the order of the day, always. The love shared by each and every member of the family, siblings included, was unquestionable and unconditional.
Gramma with her "baby girls"
Grace, 19, and Beth, 20.
I did not have brothers or sisters but I had my cousins -- 21 to be exact, and I was the youngest of the bunch. I consider myself to be extremely fortunate in that regard. Sadly, however, I am the only survivor from that large group of first cousins.  An extra bonus for me when growing up was that I had all those special aunts and uncles to spoil me, especially at Christmas and birthday time and, boy, did they ever!

My grandmother had a magnetic Christian serenity about her. I was not quite two-years-of age when she became very sick, but I cling to memories of crawling up on her lap and feeling the warmth of her bosomy embrace. Years later my aunts could not believe that that I would have memories from such an early age. I think that, in a way, they derived comfort from it. Very much the family matriarch, Gramma passed away August 10, 1940. Grampa joined her May 24, 1951.
I miss them to this day.

Record of Nelson and Harriet's marriage, Dec. 26, 1878.
Births in Harriet & Nelson's family
Charles Ernest, Feb. 25, 1881
George Byron, April 4, 1883
Della Ray (Dunlop), Feb. 23, 1886
Archie Lloyd, Oct. 16, 1891
William, Aug. 23. 1892
Edith Pearl (Cox), June 23, 1894
Hattie May (Sharpe), May 13, 1896
Elizabeth Victoria (Spouse), May 23, 1901
Grace Helena (Wright), July 18, 1902
Charles -- Ernest, Alma, Thomas
George -- Nelson, Harry, Jerry, Billy
Della -- Dorothy (Powe), Malcolm, Nelson, Stuart
Archie -- Dorothy (Patterson), Robert, Clifford
Edith -- Donna (Reed)
Hattie -- Jack, Jim, Norma (Johnston)
Elizabeth -- Nancy (Chamberlain), Sally
Grace -- Richard Wright
William -- No children
Big families were nothing new to Nelson as he himself came from a family of eight brothers and sisters. He was the youngest son (born Oct. 10, 1860) of William and Rachel (Kinch) Perry, and the grandson of William Sr. and Hannah Perry of Morley, Yorkshire, England. William Jr. and wife Rachel were both born in England, but married 1841 in Dumfries, Brant County, Canada.
Births in William & Rachel's family

Albert, July 29, 1842
Cornelia, March 5, 1843
Levina, December 5, 1845
Robert, January 27, 1849
Edward, April 27, 1850
Elizabeth, August 27, 1852
Fanny, August 12, 1856
Nelson, October 10, 1860

Harriet was the daughter of John and Sarah (Lowe) Peck and was also the youngest of nine brothers and sisters.  .(
Births in John & Sarah's family
Gramma Harriet Perry with her 
brother  Robert Peck at Salford, 
ON., approx. 1930.

Mary, 1842
Sarah, 1842
William, 1847
John, 1850
Susanna, 1851
Caroline, 1853
Robert, 1856
Charlotte, 1858
Harriet, 1861

PERRYS & PECKS:  From the left, Susanna (Peck), Nelson, Harriett, Robert Peck, Charlotte (Peck), Caroline (Peck); Perry; Nelson's daughters Grace and Edith kneeling in front.

"Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose." -- From the television show The Wonder Years

..Photo album continued, below