Hardship, adversity and heartbreak can often serve as glue that binds families together. Such was the case with the ancestors of Laura Alice Bond. But after generations of struggle and strife in England, the Bond family immigrated to Canada in search of better times. At the turn of the twentieth century, in the bustling city of Montreal, the family found their home. Perhaps it was the security they found after years of uncertainty that gave the Bond children the courage to strike out on their own, away from the support of family. As soon as they were grown, Laura Alice Bond and her brothers and sisters dispersed geographically across North America. These are the Bond family chronicles.
Laura Alice moved to Seattle, Washington in the United States where she married Eugene Lawrence, became a practical nurse and raised two children: Josephine and Edward Thomas.
At the age of twenty-two, Thomas Henry moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada where he died in the 1918 Spanish Influenza epidemic at the age of thirty-four.
Laura’s sister, Frances Josephine, also moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba where she married James Leonard Downie and had a son Leonard. She then married Frederick Albert Miller and they had another son, Allen, and two daughters Ruth Elizabeth and Jessie, eventually settling in Saskatoon.
Her brother, John Arthur, moved to Toronto after WWI and married Winifred Bulmer. They raised two children: John Daniel and Irene Alberta.
William, Laura’s baby brother, survived WWI and returned to Montreal only to die of tuberculosis in 1922 at the age of twenty-six.
A family now disconnected, none of the subsequent generations kept in touch and none of them knew their Bond aunts, uncles or cousins. Their British heritage was all but forgotten.
The First Generation
Laura Alice Bond
Laura Alice Bond was born on 14 August 1882 at Female Hospital in Woolwich, Kent, England. 1England, Certified Copy of an Entry of Birth (long form), Laura Alice Bond; General Register Office, London, England, citing Woolwich Sep [quarter] 1882, vol. 1d: 1159. She was baptized on 6 September 1882 at Saint Mary Magdalene Church in Woolwich. 2 “London, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906,” digital images, Ancestry.co.uk (http://www.ancestry.co.uk : downloaded image 19 September 2009), baptism of Laura Alice Bond, Saint Mary Magdalene (Woolwich), Register of Baptisms, p. 97, item 085; citing London Metropolitan Archives, Saint Mary Magdalene, Woolwich, Register of baptisms, P97/MRY, Item 085. Laura died on 10 May 1937 at the age of fifty four in Seattle, King County, Washington, United States of an intestinal blockage and ventral hernia. 3Washington State, Department of Health, Certificate of Death, Record 1982, Registered No. 2022 (10 May 1937), Laura Lawrence; State of Washington Department of Health, Washington, United States. Michele Swartz-Ireland, Seattle, Washington, USA, to Barbara Jean Starmans, email, 5 March 2011, “Laura Lawrence,” Lawrence Family Burials; privately held by Starmans, Richmond Hill, Ontario, 2011. She was buried on 14 May 1937 in Seattle at Acacia Memorial Park Cemetery, G8, lot 33, section b, and space 4. Laura married Eugene Lawrence on 24 August 1908 at the residence of Presbyterian Minister Wallace H. Lee at 1819 Harvard Avenue, Seattle, King County, Washington. 4King County, Washington State, King Marriage Records, marriage certificate no. 21526, “Eugene Lawrence and Laura Alice Bond,” 24 August 1908; digital image, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives (http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov : downloaded image 16 March 2008). Eugene Lawrence was born to parents Edward Thomas Lawrence and Josephine Cochran 5Washington State, Department of Health, Certificate of Death, Record 2692, Registered No. 2771 (24 July 1939), Eugene Laurence; State of Washington Department of Health, Washington, United States. on 10 January 1874 in Baltimore City, Maryland, United States. 6“US Passport Applications 1795-1925,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : downloaded image 22 January 2011), Eugene Lawrence, application no 9220, issued 13 April 1894; citing Passport Applications. Microfilm Collection, National Archives, Washington, D.C., microfilm M1372, roll 417. He died 24 July 1939 in Seattle, King County, Washington, United States.7“Deaths,” The Seattle Times – Historical Archive, 28 July 1939, online archives (http://nl.newsbank.com : downloaded image 21 February 2011), Laurence, Eugene 13749 30th Ave. N.E. 64. July 24, citing original p. 23.
Laura Alice Bond, born 14 August 1882 in Woolwich, is listed as a child of William Bond in his Royal Artillery Pay Book. There is only one child named Laura Alice Bond registered as born in England between 1881 and 1883 and this registration was in Woolwich in the September quarter of 1882. The corresponding certified copy of birth in the Woolwich registration district shows that Laura Alice Bond’s father was William Bond and her mother was Jessie Bond, formerly Williams. Laura Alice Lawrence’s death certificate also shows her father’s name was William Bond and her mother’s name was Jessie Williams. No other known evidence conflicts.
Eugene and Laura’s Children
i. Josephine E Lawrence was born about 1909 in Washington, United States. 8“US Passport Applications 1795-1925,” Eugene Lawrence, application no 9220, issued 13 April 1894. She died after 1967. 9“The Seattle Times Obituaries,” The Seattle Times – Historical Archive, 16 February 1967, online archives (http://nl.newsbank.com : downloaded image 21 February 2011), Edward T. Lawrence, citing original p. 46.
ii. Edward Thomas Lawrence was born 8 October 1911 in Seattle, King County, Washington, United States. 10Washington State, Department of Health, Certificate of Birth, Record 3554, File No. 18823, Registered No. 3559 (8 October 1911), Infant Lawrence [Edward T Lawrence]; State of Washington Department of Health, Washington, United States. He died on 14 February 1967 at age 50 of a massive myocardial infarction at his home at 13769 – 30th Avenue N.E. in Seattle, King County, Washington 11Washington State, Department of Health, Certificate of Death, Reg. Dist No. 1299, State File No. 3088 (14 February 1967), Edward T. Lawrence; State of Washington Department of Health, Washington, United States. and was buried on 18 February 1967 in Acacia Memorial Park Cemetery, G8, lot 91, section C, space 5 in Seattle. 12Swartz-Ireland to Starmans, email, 5 March 2011.
Laura Alice Bond – Early Years in England
Laura Alice Bond was born on Monday, 14 August 1882 at the Female Hospital in Woolwich, England. The time of her birth is unknown but that morning, the barometer was falling and the sky was cloudy. The winds were moderate from the south or south-west but by the evening, the barometer had begun to rise and the sky seemed as though it might clear.
Laura’s father was thirty-six year old William Bond, a Gunner for the Royal Artillery in the 4th Battery, 1st Brigade. Her mother was his wife of three years, twenty-four year old Jessie Harriet Williams. After a year long posting to India shortly after they were married, the young couple had recently returned to England where William was assigned to the Royal Artillery Garrison at Woolwich. They lived in the quarters for married soldiers in the 19B block of the Cardwell Cottages. The Cardwell Cottages were over ninty years old and were without the sanitary requirements of the time and had been recommended for demolition.
Sometime after Laura was born, the young family moved from the ancient cottages to the newer married quarters in the Royal Artillery Barracks. As the new year of 1884 began, Laura’s mother would have known that she was expecting another child. When Jessie went into labour, she probably sent Laura Alice to stay in another family’s quarters and instead of having her baby in the hospital, Jessie would likely have had assistance from some of the other soldiers’ wives with the baby’s delivery. On Saturday, 5 July 1884, Laura’s baby brother Thomas Henry was born.
As an army family living in the barracks at the Royal Artillery Garrison, the Bond quarters would have been subject to inspection from time to time to ensure that they were kept neat and clean. As the children of a soldier, Laura and Thomas would have attended the Garrison school and the whole family would have been expected to attend church every Sunday.
When Laura was four, her father was transferred to Slough Fort near the coast at Allhollows, Kent. At the time of their move to the new post, Jessie was in the final weeks of pregnancy and in the spring of 1887 she gave birth to daughter Frances Josephine. During this confinement, there would not have been any friendly faces to assist Jessie with the delivery. The family had been at Slough Fort only a matter of days and five year old Laura would have probably done her best to keep Thomas out of the way while one of the soldier’s wives helped with the delivery.
Laura was seven when her father retired from the Royal Artillery with a small pension and the family went to live in London. On 3 November of the same year, Laura’s brother John Arthur was born at 25 Maiden Lane in the St. George of the East district of Southwark near London Bridge.
With her father now a civilian and working as a night watchman, Laura would probably have seen very little of him and when he was at home, he would often be the worse for drink. As the oldest child, Laura would have probably helped her mother with the younger Frances and new baby John. The St. George of the East district was the poorest and most crowded area of London and it had the highest death rate in the entire city. The local Cockney speech would have been incomprehensible to Laura’s ears as she made her way through the neighbourhood streets and the odours of the city, the traffic and the crowds must have been unfathomable to a child used to the Kent countryside.
At the time of the 1891 census, Laura was living at the St. George of the East Industrial School. Why, or for how long Laura was living at the school is uncertain, but the Industrial Schools of the time were the home of poor and destitute children. Sometimes children were ordered to the school by the magistrates when they were found begging in the street, and sometimes their parents had declared them beyond control. Laura’s day would have begun as early as 6:00 a.m. and finished at 7:00 p.m. In addition to regular school lessons, she would have learned housework, sewing and how to do laundry.
Her brother Thomas and her sister Frances were both enumerated in 1891 in the children’s ward of the St. George of the East infirmary. Her father, William, was enumerated in the adult ward of the same infirmary. Her mother Jessie and baby brother John were living at 73 Jubilee Building near Tower Street in one room. It is not known what illness sent Thomas, his sister Frances and their father to the infirmary but many infectious diseases were prevalent in St. George of the East at that time, including measles, whooping cough and diarrhea.
Less than two weeks after Laura’s eleventh birthday in 1893, her father died near Duke Street where he worked as a night watchman. She and her brother Thomas were probably at home or at school at the time of William’s death. According to a newspaper account of the event, Thomas’ mother had taken her two youngest children with her when she went to William’s place of employment to bring him his dinner. On her arrival, she found her husband collapsed and, putting him into a cart, ran with him to Guy’s hospital where he was pronounced dead.
William Bond, a night watchman at some arches in Duke-street, near London Bridge, was found lying in an insensible condition, and died soon after reaching Guy’s hospital. His wife, who had traversed all the way from Cable-street with two little children to bring his dinner arrived to find him dying, and the poor woman was overcome with grief.Yesterday's Summary, Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, 27 August 1893.
With no reason to remain in London, Jessie made the momentous decision to immigrate to Canada. Before leaving England, Jessie and her children probably journeyed to Preston, Lancashire where Laura’s Aunt Fanny lived with her husband and three teen aged boys. Laura was eleven when they arrived in Preston and either she did not want to go to Canada with the family or maybe Jessie thought it was better that she stay with her Aunt Fanny. In any event, when the family sailed, only Thomas, Frances and young John were with Jessie and Laura stayed behind.
Laura Alice Bond in Lancashire
By 1901, Laura was eighteen years old and working as a laundress. She lived at 85 Lancaster Row, a boarder with the widow Sarah Corless, only a few blocks from her Aunt Fanny Robinson’s house on Stanleyfield Road.
Now that her cousins, William and John, had moved out on their own and only Thomas remained at home with his mother, Fanny had also begun to take in boarders. The last few years had been difficult for Laura and her Aunt Fanny. First Laura’s grandfather had passed away from apoplexy 4 March 1896 in the Union Workhouse where her grandparents had been living. Next, almost a year to the day later, Fanny’s husband, William Robinson, had died on 7 March 1897. With the help of the club and insurance money left to Fanny by William, she had so far managed to stay in the Stanleyfield house. After Laura’s grandfather died, her grandmother seemed to be less and less aware and she died finally of what the doctor had called senile decay on 28 July 1896.
Laura Alice Bond in Canada
By the spring of 1903, twenty year old Laura had decided to finally join her family in Canada. On 23 April 1903, she set sail from Liverpool, Lancashire aboard the Bavarian. The Bavarian was a steamship from the Allan Line, built in Scotland in 1899. She had been launched as a transatlantic passenger ship but after only two voyages, the Boer war had intervened and for the next three years she had been transporting troops to the front lines in South Africa. This was the Bavarian’s fourth voyage to Canada since the end of the war and it is likely that the great ship still showed signs of her years of acting as a transport ship for soldiers. After nine days at sea, Laura arrived in Montreal at about noon on 2 May and by 1 p.m. the ship had docked.
At the turn of the century, Montreal was a bustling metropolitan city and Jessie was taking full advantage, earning a living by selling newspapers however and wherever she could, with the unwilling help of her older children.
By about 1906, likely in an effort to escape his mother’s newspaper business, Laura, her brother Thomas Henry and her sister Frances Josephine left Montreal.
In 1907, Laura’s brother Thomas was a fitter for the Canadian Pacific Railway in Winnipeg. Laura’s sister Frances Josephine probably travelled west with him because on 12 March 1907 at the age of nineteen, she married James Leonard Downie in Winnipeg. Laura may also have travelled with Thomas and Frances initially but at some time in 1907, she crossed the border from Canada into the United States.
Laura and Eugene – The Married Years
By the summer of 1908, Laura was living in Seattle, King County, in the state of Washington. On 24 August, she married thirty-four year old Eugene Lawrence at the residence of a Presbyterian minister, Wallace H. Lee at 1819 Harvard Avenue in Seattle. Witnesses to their marriage included Elizabeth F Lee, the minister’s wife, and H.A. Hollingshead. Eugene was originally from Baltimore City, Maryland, the youngest son of a coffee broker Edward Thomas Lawrence and his wife, Josephine Cochran.
Not long after their marriage, Eugene and Laura had a daughter who they named Josephine. As well as being named for Eugene’s mother, the baby was also named for Laura’s sister. By April 1910, Laura and Eugene were living at 340 Nickerson in Seattle, and Eugene was working as a clerk in a warehouse. The following year, on 8 October 1911, they had a son, who they named Edward Thomas after Eugene’s father and on 19 October, a birth announcement appeared in the Seattle Times.
On 15 May 1914, Laura’s brother, Thomas Henry was badly injured at work at the Cummings Brass Company in Winnipeg. An article about the accident appeared in the Manitoba Free Press and it is possible that Laura’s sister might have written to Laura about the accident and sent the clipping to her:
Wheel Axle breaks, Man Badly Hurt; Thomas Bond, 461 Carlaw Avenue, is lying in the General Hospital with a fractured skull as the result of an accident which occurred in the Cummings Brass company’s plant, 277 Huntley Street, yesterday morning. Bond is reported to be seriously injured. The accident occurred when Bond was polishing brass with an emery wheel. The wheel was revolving at 2,400 revolutions a minute, when the axle broke. The wheel shot up, striking Bond on the head. He was rendered unconscious and was taken to the General Hospital in a taxicab. At an early hour this morning his condition was slightly improved.Manitoba Free Press, 15 May 1914
By the fall of 1914 as Thomas recovered in Winnipeg and with the world was at war in Europe, Laura’s step-father, Donald Williams, died in Montreal 8 November 1914, leaving her mother a widow once more. On 25 January 1916, Laura’s brother John had enlisted in Toronto. Her youngest brother, William, followed soon after, enlisting on 10 February 1916 in Montreal. Laura no doubt worried about her brothers but with a husband of fighting age and two young children, she was probably very thankful that so far, her adopted country, the United States, had not yet entered the war.
Her relief did not last because on 6 April 1917 the United States officially declared war as well and on 12 September 1918, Eugene signed his draft registration card. By then, the young family was living in Tukwila and Eugene was working at the Skinner and Eddy shipyards. Perhaps Eugene’s work at the shipyard was considered vital to the war effort or maybe the war was over before he could be called up but whatever the reason, Laura would have been greatly relieved that Eugene never began his military duty.
In late 1918, the First World War was drawing to a close and soldiers were beginning to return home. But as they returned, they brought with them a new and very contagious influenza. In Seattle, as in other cities around the world, public gatherings were banned. Nurses and doctors were unable to cope with the large numbers of sick and dying people. Any woman with any nurses training was asked to come forward and help care for the sick. Entire families were stricken and there was no place left to hide from the Spanish influenza.
Then finally, in early November, the war was officially over and even as the crowds took to the streets everywhere to celebrate, Laura’s brother Thomas lay in the Selkirk Hotel in Winnipeg, burning with fever. His bout of the Spanish influenza quickly turned into bronchial pneumonia and two days later, at 8:30 pm on 10 November 1918, he was dead.
On Tuesday, 21 January 1919 at ten o’clock in the morning, over 25,000 metal trades workers walked off the job in Seattle, including 12,500 from Skinner and Eddy alone, completely closing down the giant shipyard. It isn’t known if Eugene was still working at Skinner and Eddy in 1919 but if he was employed at any of the Seattle shipyards, he would have been with the crowds of workers that went home that morning.
On Thursday, 6 February the other Seattle Unions had joined the metal trades and a general strike began. The Seattle Times was not published that day and did not resume publication until Sunday, 9 February. Streetcars did not run. Stores and schools closed. The Executive Committee of the General Strike published an official statement in the Seattle Union Record. They advised that arrangements had been made for policing of the city during the strike and for delivery of milk for babies and the sick and for filling of prescriptions. They elected to postpone the shutdown of the telephone system and announced that garbage pickup would be limited to “swill and decaying matter” which might breed disease. After five days of the general strike, it was over. All but the shipyard workers returned to work by noon on Tuesday, 11 February.
By 1920, the Lawrence family had purchased a house on 92nd Street in North Park, King County. After the strikes of the previous year, Eugene had returned to work in a shipyard, Edward and Josephine were going to school and Laura was working as a practical nurse. It must have seemed to Laura and Eugene that life had finally returned to normal after the deadly war years, the fearful Spanish influenza and the uncertainty of the Seattle labour troubles but the war still had another victim to claim from the Bond family and on 25 July 1922, Laura’s brother William died in Montreal of the tuberculosis he had contracted on the battlefields of France.
During the 1920’s the Lawrence children passed from childhood into adulthood and by 1930 the family had moved to the northeast of Seattle to 37th Avenue NE in the Lake Precinct. With the collapse of the stock market in October of 1929, Seattle sank into the depression years and the shipyards and steamship companies of Seattle were particularly hard hit. With no shipyard work available, Eugene worked as a labourer in the gardening industry. Laura and Eugene’s daughter Josephine made tamales in a factory and their son, Edward, was an operator at a service station.
Early in May of 1937, Laura developed a ventral hernia and an obstruction in her intestines and was admitted to King County Hospital where she died at 8:50 pm on Monday, 10 May. She was buried in the Pine Garden section of Acacia Memorial Park cemetery on 14 May 1937 in G8, Lot 33, section B, space 4.
Two years later, in July of 1939, Eugene was admitted to the same hospital suffering from a perforated ulcer. With the complications of hypertensive heart disease, he succumbed to his illnesses and died at 10:07 am on Monday, 24 July. He was buried the following Thursday after a funeral service by Fisher and Kalfus and was buried next to Laura in the Acacia Memorial Park Cemetery.
After the deaths of their parents, Edward and Josephine lived on in the family home at 13769 – 30th Avenue North East until Edward’s death in 1967. Neither of the Lawrence children appears to have ever married. No trace of Josephine has been found after she was mentioned in Edward’s obituary in 1967 but it is presumed that she passed away quietly after that date.
In the next chapter of the Bond Family Chronicles, the Social Historian will step back one generation to tell the story of Laura’s parents. We’ll travel through industrial Lancashire, visit the beautiful Isle of Wight, sail to Delhi India, return to Woolwich and then descend into the darkness of the Docklands of London before joining the family as they emigrate to Canada. Don’t miss the next exciting chapter in the Bond Family Chronicles! The Social Historian
England, Certified Copy of an Entry of Birth (long form), Laura Alice Bond; General Register Office, London, England, citing Woolwich Sep [quarter] 1882, vol. 1d: 1159.
“London, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906,” digital images, Ancestry.co.uk (http://www.ancestry.co.uk : downloaded image 19 September 2009), baptism of Laura Alice Bond, Saint Mary Magdalene (Woolwich), Register of Baptisms, p. 97, item 085; citing London Metropolitan Archives, Saint Mary Magdalene, Woolwich, Register of baptisms, P97/MRY, Item 085.
Washington State, Department of Health, Certificate of Death, Record 1982, Registered No. 2022 (10 May 1937), Laura Lawrence; State of Washington Department of Health, Washington, United States. Michele Swartz-Ireland, Seattle, Washington, USA, to Barbara Jean Starmans, email, 5 March 2011, “Laura Lawrence,” Lawrence Family Burials; privately held by Starmans, Richmond Hill, Ontario, 2011.
King County, Washington State, King Marriage Records, marriage certificate no. 21526, “Eugene Lawrence and Laura Alice Bond,” 24 August 1908; digital image, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives (http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov : downloaded image 16 March 2008).
Washington State, Department of Health, Certificate of Death, Record 2692, Registered No. 2771 (24 July 1939), Eugene Laurence; State of Washington Department of Health, Washington, United States.
“US Passport Applications 1795-1925,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : downloaded image 22 January 2011), Eugene Lawrence, application no 9220, issued 13 April 1894; citing Passport Applications. Microfilm Collection, National Archives, Washington, D.C., microfilm M1372, roll 417.
“Deaths,” The Seattle Times – Historical Archive, 28 July 1939, online archives (http://nl.newsbank.com : downloaded image 21 February 2011), Laurence, Eugene 13749 30th Ave. N.E. 64. July 24, citing original p. 23.
“US Passport Applications 1795-1925,” Eugene Lawrence, application no 9220, issued 13 April 1894.
“The Seattle Times Obituaries,” The Seattle Times – Historical Archive, 16 February 1967, online archives (http://nl.newsbank.com : downloaded image 21 February 2011), Edward T. Lawrence, citing original p. 46.
Washington State, Department of Health, Certificate of Birth, Record 3554, File No. 18823, Registered No. 3559 (8 October 1911), Infant Lawrence [Edward T Lawrence]; State of Washington Department of Health, Washington, United States.
Washington State, Department of Health, Certificate of Death, Reg. Dist No. 1299, State File No. 3088 (14 February 1967), Edward T. Lawrence; State of Washington Department of Health, Washington, United States.