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Migration of William & Jeanette Paterson Todd

Ontario to Michigan

Railroad map of southern Ontario

The above section of map is from a nineteenth century map that shows railroad lines in Ontario, Canada. At the upper left hand corner of this map, the southern tip of Lake Huron drops into Ontario and Michigan. At the upper right hand corner is just the tip of Lake Ontario. The numbers across this map relate to the following story and trace the movement of the family of William John Todd from 1851 to 1860. Below is a modern highway map that covers the same territory.

map of Port Huron to Hamilton

1. On the 1851 Census for Hamilton, Ontario, a Janet Paterson is listed. She indicated that her place of birth was the United States and her age was seventeen. While we do not have any proof that this is the Janet Paterson who married William John Todd, her age, place of birth and proximity to the railroad on which William Todd worked make an arguement that this was, indeed, our Janet.

2. In 1856 in the Haldimand County, Ontario Marriage Register, it was recorded that Wiliam Todd married Janet Paterson. Whether this marriage took place in Caledonia where the minister, Rev. Andrew Ferrier, lived or in Hamiton, where he is known to have conducted marriages, is unknown.

3. In 1858 William and Janet lived in Komoka, Middlesex County, Ontario. Komoka was an important railroad center at the time with three rail lines running through it. Notice on the map that although this is a map of the Canadian railroad, one of the lines terminated across the national border in Port Huron, Michigan.

4. On 16 February, 1858, James Stead Todd was baptised, and his birth and baptism are recorded in the Registry of Births and Admissions to the Presbyterian Church Congregation of Lobo and Caradoc (Strathroy), Ontario, Canada. The record shows that his parents, William Todd and Janet Paterson Todd lived in Komoka, Ontario. On September 15, 1858 a second son, William, was born. At this point all that is known is that William was born in Ontario, but it is not known whether or not he was born in Komoka.

5.Only two years later the Todd family lived in Port Huron, St. Clair County, Michigan according the United States Census recorded on 24 July, 1860. Why did the Todd family relocate to Port Huron? It probably had something to do with William's job with the railroad. Perhaps, as an engineer, it was more useful for him to live at one end or the other of the railway line for which he worked, and Port Huron was clearly one terminus point. On 13 September, 1860, a third son, John, was born, and his birthplace was Port Huron. On 17 March, 1862, William Todd renounced his allegance to Queen Victoria of England and became a citizen of the United States. On 18 May, 1864, a fourth son, Samuel Paterson Todd, was born.

Port Huron to Bay City

Bay City to Port Huron

It is not know for certain when the Todd family made its next move. However, we can narrow this considerably. The Todd's first daughter, Jane 'Jennie' Todd was born in Bay City, Michigan on 14 December, 1866. Therefore, it can be inferred that the move happened sometime between the birth of Samuel in Port Huron on 18 May, 1864 and Jane in Bay City on 14 December, 1866.

A second daughter, Jeanette 'Nettie', was born November 1868. Unfortunately we have no birth certificates for either daughter although the birth of their younger siblings are well documented. Both daughters are listed with the family in 1870 and in 1880. The United States Census recorded on 8 June, 1870 shows the family living in Wenona, Bangor Township, Bay County, Michigan, where William was a watchman in a railroad engine house.It also shows still another child, Andrew, whose birth certificate records that he was born 21 March, 1870 in Wenona.

The years in Bay County were good ones for the Todd family. As the children grew to adults, most of them moved on to other parts of Michigan, to Minnesota, and to Ohio. Jane remained in what is now Bay City, and Samuel and his wife returned there to live after he retired.

William John Todd Family in the Census


  1. William's second wife, Catherine McAboy Todd, was listed in the 1900 Census as a housekeeper living in the household of her employer, William Dingman, on Ann Street, West Bay City.

Location: Third Ward, Port Huron, St. Clair, Michigan

Name Relation Age Gender Place of
William John Todd Head 40 Male Ireland Engineer (railroad)
Janet Wife 24 Female New York  
James Son 3 Male Canada  
William Son 1 Male Canada  

Location: Wenona, Bangor Township, Bay County, Michigan

Name Relation Age Sex Occupation Place of
Father of
Foreign birth
Mother of
Foreign Birth
William John Todd Head 46 Male Watchman at
Engine House
Ireland Yes Yes  
Janet Wife 34 Female KeepingHouse New York Yes Yes  
James Son 12 Male At home Canada Yes No Yes
William Son 11 Male At home Canada Yes No Yes
John Son 9 Male   Michigan Yes No Yes
Samuel Son 6 Male   Michigan Yes No Yes
Jane Daughter 3 Female   Michigan Yes No  
Janet Daughter 1 Female   Michigan Yes No  
Andrew Son 3/12 Male   Michigan Yes No  

Location: 2nd Ward, West Bay City, Bay County, Michigan

Name Relation Sex Age Single/
Occupation Birthplace Father's
William John Todd Head M 58 Married Laborer Ireland Ireland Ireland
Catherine Wife F 42 Married Keeping house Canada Ireland Ireland 1
James Son M 22 Single Carpenter Canada Ireland Ireland 2
William Son M 21 Single Clerk Canada Ireland Ireland 2
John Son M 19 Single Merchant Michigan Ireland Ireland 2
Samuel Son M 16 Single Laborer Michigan Ireland Ireland 2
Jane Daughter F 13 Single Attended school Michigan Ireland Ireland 2
Janette (Janet) Daughter F 11 Single Attended school Michigan Ireland Ireland 2
Alexander Son M 6 Single Attended school Michigan Ireland Ireland 3
Charles Son M 6 Single Attended school Michigan Ireland Ireland 3
Nathaniel Son M 5 Single Attended school Michigan Ireland Ireland 3
Mary Daughter F 3 Single   Michigan Ireland Ireland 3


  1. William's wife, Catherine McAboy, was his second wife whom he married on 5 June, 1872. Census reports that she could read but could not write.
  2. Census incorrect about mother's birthplace as Jeanette was born in New York state.
  3. This is a child of William and Catherine and the information about mother's birthplace is still wrong as Catherine was born in Canada.

Location: 500 South Hill Street, West Bay City, Bay County, Michigan

Name Relationship Age Note Place of
Occupation Birth
Arthur Mussen Head 38 Ireland Day Laborer Dec 1861 Married 8 Yrs.
Jennie Wife 33 Michigan None Dec 1866 This is Jane Todd
William John Todd Father-in-law 79 1 Ireland None May 1821  
Nathaniel Todd Brother-in-law 25 Michigan Wheelman-boat May 1875 Son of Wm & Catherine

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