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Johnson, Diane: Where Did Aunt Ethel Die?

Where Did Aunt Ethel Die?

By Diane Johnson

Ethel Miller was my grandfather’s older sister by one year. She was born to George and Sarah Miller, the third of nine children, in the year 1890 in the Newfoundland outport of Joe Batt’s Arm.

Aunt Ethel followed my grandfather and arrived in Nova Scotia in November, 1913. This appeared on the passenger list of the Stephano as a 22 year old domestic. (She seems to have become a year younger).

George Donald Simmons s/o EthelGeorge Donald Simmons s/o EthelEthel married American, Roland Charles Ethel Miller with brother JacobEthel Miller with brother JacobSimmons, and their first child, George Donald Simmons was born March 6, 1918 in Halifax. Aunt Ethel and Uncle Charlie left Halifax travelling west through the United States eventually settling in Long Beach, California. Daughter, Helen, was born in 1920 and Charles William Simmons was born June 29, 1925 in Los Angeles County, California.

Uncle Charlie was a railway worker who soon became an oil worker. The oil fields in the Los Angeles area started to boom in the 1920's about the time of their arrival.

In a letter to her brother written in 1937, Aunt Ethel mentions that daughter Helen has just married at the age of 16 to a “wonderful young man” and that she misses her terribly. She says that George is away but Billy is still at home.

George, according to US muster rolls, was in the U.S. Navy serving on the U.S.S. Saratoga from 1936 until 1941. I have not been able to find out if he remained on the Saratoga during the Second World War. George died June 24, 1968 at the age of 50 and is buried in Willamette National Cemetery for American veterans. Billy also passed away.

Uncle Charlie died some time around 1938 and Aunt Ethel eventually remarried and took the surname Ross.

In September, 1939, Aunt Ethel, my grandfather and their siblings gathered for a reunion in their home village. My mother remembers how anxious Aunt Ethel and Auntie Maude (also an American citizen) were to get back home when they heard that war had been declared. Aunt Ethel never saw any of her siblings after that visit. She did correspond with my grandfather but apparently did not reply or correspond with other siblings.

Two of our family mysteries are: “When did Aunt Ethel die?” and “Where is she buried??”