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Catharine Gardiner and Ralph Horatio Sherwood

Catharine married Ralph Horatio Sherwood on July 25, 1910 in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Their story is marked by tragedy.

Updated December 30, 2022 to include the 1950 US Census and further articles about Ralph after Catharine’s death.

Catharine Gardiner was born on January 1, 1890, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. At the time of her birth her father, Samuel Gardiner (1859-1914) was 30 and her mother, Teresa (née Stevens) (1861-1921), was 28.

She had two brothers and six sisters.

Catharine married Ralph Horatio Sherwood on July 25, 1910 in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.

Marriage Record (image via Ancestry.com)

Ralph Horatio Sherwood was born on May 24, 1889, in Lockport, New York, USA when his father, Horatio Wheeler Sherwood (1856-1926), was 33, and his mother, Emily (née Wilson) (1860-1920) was 29. He had two brothers and one sister.

Ontario Marriage Registration (image via Ancestry.com)

The marriage record indicates that Ralph was in the “Theatrical Profession” and Catharine (here spelled with an “e” instead of an “a” as in her birth registration), was a clerk. It also suggests that Samuel was a Superintendent (unknown at this time what that refers to).

The couple had one son:

  • Samuel James Sherwood (1912-1939)

The next record we find of the couple is Samuel’s birth record on September 3, 1912. The record mistakenly lists Catharine as “Cathleen I.” (A further document suggests that her middle name was Isabelle, but this name does not appear on her birth registration. It’s possible that she was baptized Catharine Isabelle, and the name doesn’t appear on the birth registration.)

The birth was registered in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, where Catharine’s parents were living, but appears to have occurred at the Salvation Army Hospital in Niagara Falls, Ontario. I have found no record of this hospital, and it doesn’t appear to exist in present day.

Ontario Birth Registration (image via Ancestry.com)

In 1917, Ralph is listed in a city directory for Niagara Falls living with his mother, Emily and his brother, Otto at 312 Ferry Avenue. It is assumed that Catharine was also living in the home but not listed because she is a non-working female (Emily may have been listed because she was the owner of the home.) The address appears to be a parking lot at present.

Niagara Falls New York City Directory, 1917 (image via Ancestry.com)

A draft registration for Ralph dated June 1917 has a home address of 1345 Pierce Avenue in Niagara Falls. It appears he did not serve in WWI.

US Draft Registration (image via Ancestry.com)
1345 Pierce Avenue, Niagara Falls (image via GoogleMaps)

The 1920 US Census suggests that Catharine became a naturalized American citizen after emigrating in 1907 (prior to her marriage but clearly before Samuel’s birth when they were in Ontario). Ralph’s job is still Silver Worker, and Catharine isn’t working, presumably at home with seven-year-old Samuel (named after his paternal grandfather). Samuel is listed on the next page.

1920 US Census (image via Ancestry.com)

They’re found again in 1925 living at 1311 13th Street in Niagara Falls, New York, which is also where they hosted the marriage of Miss Myrtle Weintraub and J. Everett Brosniham as related in the Gazette on July 9, 1925.

1925 New York State Census (image via Ancestry.com)
a home near 1311 13th Street, Niagara Falls, NY (image via GoogleMaps)
Niagara Falls Gazette July 9, 1925 (image via FultonHistory.com)

An account of Catharine’s death is found in the Buffalo Evening News on April 5, 1928 and similar reports appeared in the Niagara Falls Gazette, Geneva Daily Times and the Lockport Union Sun Times (where it merited front-page coverage).

The reports suggest that the evening of April 3rd, Catharine was distraught, having just a week before complained of domestic battery. Ralph was arrested at the time for third-degree assault, but Catharine did not appear to see the charges through the next morning and he was released. The Police Justice DID order that Ralph keep away from the house and had to pay maintenance for Catharine.

Buffalo Evening News, April 5, 1928 (image via FultonHistory.com)

The newspaper account is very explicit about the nature of her death (suicide) in the family home on Thirteenth Street. It is likely that either Amy or Marion were living with Catharine, and it appears that one of them discovered her body early in the morning of April 4th. This article lists her name with an “e” instead of an “a” and the Gazette suggests that her middle name was Isabelle. Catharine is buried at Riverdale Cemetery after Funeral Services on April 5th.

A 1929 listing in the Niagara Falls Directory shows Ralph at 1017 20th Street in Niagara Falls, New York. His occupation is a salesman at the Brooks Steam Motor Corp. According to Wikipedia, Brooks Steam Motors, Ltd. was a Canadian manufacturer of steam cars established in March 1923. His brother Otto (a mechanic at Wagner’s Welding Shop) and sister-in-law Bertha are also listed at the same address.

Niagara Falls, New York, City Directory, 1929

A January 28, 1930 Niagara Falls Gazette article suggests that Ralph had a car accident that required the attendance of a physician.

Niagara Falls Gazette, January 28, 1930 (image via FultonHistory.com)

This was not the first car accident that Ralph had—a December 5, 1923 article suggest that he seriously injured a pedestrian. There are no further articles describing any other details (or charges), so it’s likely that this was an accident. You’ll note that we’ve seen the Ferry Street address before—that’s where he lived with his mother prior to the marriage. It’s also an address associated with his brother Otto at the end of his life.

Niagara Falls Gazette, December 5, 1923 (image via FultonHistory.com)

The April 1930 US Census provides a little more information about their living situation. Ralph is still living at the same address with brother Otto and his wife, and is listed as a widower. The record also suggests he’s changed jobs and is now selling pianos.

Census Record (Image via Ancestry.com)
1017 20th Street, Niagara Falls (image via Google Maps)

Samuel is not living with Ralph and Otto in 1930. We find him instead at the Niagara County Tuberculosis Sanatorium. A relative confirms that he was stricken with the disease.

We next find a record of Samuel crossing the border in August 1930 to visit his uncle, Frederick Gardiner, in Hamilton, Ontario. He must have recovered sufficiently to be working—he’s listed as having “odd jobs.” Frederick’s daughter Jean believed it unlikely that Samuel had an extended visit. She would have been in the home at the time doesn’t have any memory of it.

1930 Border Crossing (image via Ancestry.com)

A 1931 Niagara Falls Directory shows Ralph still living at the same address with his brother Otto, by the 1933 directory, his employer has changed again – he’s a Salesman for NY TelCo. By the following year’s directory, he’s still working at the same place, but has moved to 576 2nd Street. And in 1937 he’s at 460 2nd Street. Both addresses are within a block of the Ferry Street address where we first found Ralph.

Niagara Falls, New York, City Directory, 1935

I ran Sam’s photo through the MyHeritage Deep Nostalgia app and it came up with this clip, showing what Sam would have looked like.

The Lockport Union Sun and Journal ran an article about Samuel Sherwood‘s untimely death at the age of 27. It suggests that he’d been ill for 11 years prior and was still living in the Sanatorium. Samuel died on October 10, 1939 and like his mother, Sam is buried at Riverside Cemetery in Lewiston (also where his grandmother, Emily (Wilson) Sherwood is buried). His father was living at 348 First Street in Niagara Falls.

Lockport Union Sun and Journal, October 13, 1939 (image via FultonHistory.com)

I have not located Ralph or his brother Otto on the 1940 census. Otto does appear in the 1940 directory for Niagara Falls, living at 349 1st Street. There is no trace of Ralph in this directory, nor does he appear in the prior year (1939) or following two years.

A 1942 Draft Registration Card for Ralph shows two addresses, 28 Grant Street North in Tonawanda, and 416 1st Street in Niagara Falls. His next of kin is listed as his sister Gertrude Walker.

On March 1, 1944, the Niagara Falls Gazette records a party thrown by his brother Otto Sherwood to celebrate Ralph’s marriage to Alice Pattenden. A matching marriage record has been located for January first of that year.

Niagara Falls Gazette, March 1, 1944 (image via FultonHistory.com)

The couple appears in a 1946 Niagara Falls Directory as “tourists” at 416 First Street in Niagara Falls.

The couple are on the 1950 census at the same address (there is currently a hotel at that address). At 59, Ralph is a guard at a local chemical company (Niagara Falls Directories from 1949 thru 1960 suggests he’s working at Pathfinder Chemicals). Alice, also 59, is a housewife. The couple are living with two lodgers, Alfred Sample and Lotte Casarilla.

1950 US Census (image via Ancestry.com)

The second Mrs. Sherwood died on September 29, 1967. The couple is living at 371 8th Street in Niagara Falls at the time.

Niagara Falls Gazette, October 1, 1967 (image via FultonHistory.com)

In 1968, Ralph and his brother Otto are in the news again—this time, having escaped a fire in Ralph’s apartment, still at 371 8th Street. An article in the Niagara Falls Gazette on February 23, 1968, suggests that the two brothers were forced out onto the second-story porch roof in their long underwear in freezing temperatures by the fire, which was caused by faulty wiring. The hospital kept the brothers together as they recovered so Ralph could take care of Otto. According to a further article, the brothers were still in hospital recovering two days later. The home was likely demolished after the fire – there’s an empty lot at that address currently, and adjacent homes appear to be abandoned.

Niagara Falls Gazette, February 23, 1968 (image via FultonHistory.com)

The firefighters who rescued Ralph and Otto received awards for their bravery.

Niagara Falls NY Gazette, January 29, 1969 (image via FultonHistory.com)

Following the fire, Otto was asked about his opinion on raises for City Hall staff for the Niagara Gazette. His photo was featured in the article.

Niagara Falls Gazette, August 4, 1968 (image via FultonHistory.com)

Ralph Sherwood was 75 when he died in Buffalo, New York. His obituary suggests he retired from his job as a guard at Goodyear Tire in 1966. Research suggests that Goodyear, at 56th Street and Niagara Falls Boulevard, opened on the same site as the former Pathfinder Chemicals plant. Ralph is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls Gazette, January 10, 1972 (Image via FultonHistory.com)

Main image: Samuel James Sherwood

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AG Knapper

AG Knapper

AG has been researching her family tree since 2004, and it now includes over 7,000 ancestors and their descendants. She aspires to permanently record the stories before they're lost to time. Do you want to read her latest research? Use this link to sign-up for a weekly newsletter so you never miss a story! Do you know this family? Comment below or use the contact form and help make these stories richer.

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