Throstle Piecer

Edward Baines. The History of Cotton Manufacture

Ann Gaskell was born about 1827, in Disley, Cheshire, England. She married William Bence on September 3, 1848 at Saint James, Didsbury, Lancashire, England. Their first child Peter Gaskell Bence was born in 1849. A daughter Ellen died in infancy in 1852.

In the 1851 English Census, William is listed as a “Power loom weaver” and Ann is listed as a “throstle piecer”.

Ann died in 1853 in Heaton Norris, Lancashire, England, at the age of 26. In 1854, William Bence immigrated to Fall River, Massachusetts with his son Peter and his second wife, Sarah Jane Hudson.

throstle, n.

  1. A thrush; esp. the song-thrush or mavis, Turdus musicus.
  1. A spinning-machine for cotton, wool, etc., a modification of that originally called a water-frame; differing from a mule in having a continuous action, the processes of drawing, twisting, and winding being carried on simultaneously. As to the reason of the name see quot. 1877.

1877   E. H. Knight Pract. Dict. Mech. (at cited word), The throstle derived its name from the singing or humming which it occasioned.

piecer, n.

  1. a person whose occupation is the joining together of pieces or threads, as in textile work.


Edward Baines. The History of Cotton Manufacture (1835). (accessed: 22-jun-2015).

throstle. Oxford Unabridged Dictionary. Oxford University Press, 2015. (accessed: 22-jun-2015).

piecer. Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. (accessed: June 21, 2015).

Peg & Jean – Friends ’til the end

There was always laughter when these two got together.

Peg & Jean scoping out their husbands – 1947

Mary Margaret “Peg” (Shepardson) Bence
April 12, 1926 – September 21, 2011

Patricia “Jean” (Hevenor) Porter
September 19, 1926 – September 11, 2015

My First Camera

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 4.36.41 PM

I recently had some 2000+ family 35mm color slides scanned. These were photos that my father took over a 30 period starting in the early 50s as well as pictures I took in high school, college, and beyond.

Many of the photos were taken with an Argus C3, similar to the one pictured here. My father purchased the camera in the mid-50s and handed it off to me in the late 60s. I carried that camera to a peace rally in Boston in 1968, to summer school in 1969 at Syracuse, on a 3 month solo backpacking trip to Europe after college, and on a  trip to England with my mother 2 years later. All the settings were manual, it was small but heavy (its nickname was “The Brick”), and it stood up to a lot of rugged handling.

I really loved that camera.

Norman McKenzie – 1861 Canada Census

This the earliest record I’ve found for my great-great-grandfather in Canada. He was born in Scotland in the early 1830s and was still living there for the 1841 Scotland Census.

Norman McKenzie – 1861 Census, Prince Edward island, Canada
Occupation teacher, 2 married people in household plus 2 females under the age of 6 and one 7-16, religion “Kirk of Scotland”.

mckenzie norman 1861 canada census crop

Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Census Returns For 1861; Roll: M-898