Frank Withenshaw

Frank Withenshaw was born on 14th February 1894 in Whitley Inferior. He was the youngest child of David Lewis Withenshaw (born Norley) and his wife Margaret Ellen (nee Harrison) who was born in Whitley. The Withenshaw family had lived in Newton-by-Daresbury when most of the older children were born, but then moved to Whitley Road in Whitley Inferior, where the father was a wheelwright.

By 1901, the family were living at 38, Elaine Street in the parish of St. Elphins in Warrington, where the father was employed as a master wheelwright. Frank had older siblings still living at home: William (21), Margaret Ann (18), Alfred (16), George (12) and David (10). Another brother Joseph (20) had already left home and a sister Agnes had died in 1887 at the age of 2 months and was buried in Daresbury Churchyard.

Ten years later, in April 1911, the family were living at 7, Garner Street in Warrington, but only Alfred, George and Frank were still at home with their parents. Frank’s occupation was given as a grocer, but he was out of work at the time of the census. A few months later the parents emigrated to Canada, as did Frank. They settled in Montreal, in the province of Quebec.

At the outbreak of the Great War, Frank was employed as a machinist. He was described as 5’8’’, with a clear complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. In late March 1916, he enlisted as a Private in the 5th Pioneers, part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He was given the service number 1078056. These Pioneer groups were Canadian Engineers, whose job was partly to dig tunnels for mines under the trenches, but also to build bridges. They had a training ground at Valcartier in Quebec. He was later promoted to corporal. In November 1916 the 5th Pioneers embarked for Europe from Halifax, Nova Scotia on the SS Metagama, in third class accommodation. At the time Frank was living at 141, Congregation Street in Montreal. Frank served in France. He was demobilized on April 1st 1919.

A few months after returning to Canada, on 3rd July 1919, he married Jessie Stuart Roberts of Montreal, who had been born in Scotland and who had emigrated to Canada in 1913.

The 1920 Census of Canada showed them living at 130, Gordon Avenue, in the Verdun district of Montreal, Quebec with their son David, who had been born that year. They would also have a daughter, Emma Pearl, in 1922.

Frank’s mother died in October 1928 in Montreal and his father died in 1941 in St. Thomas, Ontario.
Frank and Jessie eventually went to live in the U.S.A., but never naturalized and always kept their Canadian citizenship. For some of his life Frank had been a mechanic and was a car-man on the railroad. A car-man would inspect and do maintenance on the railroad freight cars. It would appear that he played the piano in his spare time and accompanied a Bob MacFarlane on violin (Canadian fiddle) on a Melotone record of pieces called Stirling Castle, Jenny Dang the Weaver and Star Polka. Melotone was a Montreal recording company, operating between 1930 and 1938.

Frank and Jessie retired to Pinellas County, Florida, to the city of St. Petersburg, where he died on 17th August 1961. He was 67 years of age. He was survived by Jessie.