Martha Fern–So much I never knew!

I recently decided — aka last week — that I should write something a little different on Sundays. Something with more meaning than a novel can hope to possess. A person’s life. A real human being who lived and loved and then said farewell to the ones she loved. She said farewell to me. Martha Fern Stutz was my maternal grandma. She lived on the family farm two miles from where I grew up and I spent a lot of time between those two wonderful specks on the earth. She passed away ten years ago in January. It doesn’t feel near that long ago.

As I’ve started researching, or “phoning Mom”, it’s amazing the little things I never knew, or thought about before:

It is hard to say how concerned 33 year-old Joseph Reuben Stutz, and 29 year-old Clara McLean Coombs were with world events, on July 19th, 1914 in the small hamlet of Leavitt near Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, as they welcomed their fourth child. In Alberta, the first great wave of immigration that had spanned that last twenty years was coming to a close, and in exactly nine days the world would charge headfirst into World War I.

Fern, (as she disliked the name Martha and so went by her middle name) came into the world with the help of the local midwife “Grandma Baker” who became legendary for the hundreds and hundreds of babies she birthed without losing any of them or their mothers.

Martha Fern is the adorable girl in the middle:



I look forward to more Sunday evenings delving into this wonderful life that has affected mine so greatly. I’ll share a few of the most exciting tidbits here 🙂

Something Worth Remembering

For those of you in the US or other parts of the world, November 11 is called “Remembrance Day” in Canada, a day set aside to remember those who have fought for our freedom–alive and dead.

Though I have spent many years researching World War II for novels I have written, and am writing, and have known and visited with family and friends that served in that war, I never found much of a connection to World War I. I’ve still learned about it and watched movies about it, but there wasn’t that same personal connection.

Until this year.

Sunday I received a letter from my mother-in-law with a list of my husband’s (and my children’s) great grandfathers, great granduncles, etc., who fought in the First World War.

Here are a few:

  • James Couch joined Canada’s overseas expeditionary force in Victoria BC in 1917, went over to Europe and died at Passchendaele, Belgium 0n 11 N0vember, 1917. He left a wife and 2 small sons in Victoria Canada.


  • Thomas Henry Couch – James’ cousin – was killed in action, 22 march, 1918, in Flanders.



Royal Marine Light Infantry (RMLI) 15th Short Service Squad pictured outside Walmer Castle in 1916 (1)

  • Ellis Garnett died 6 October 1918 of the 1918 Flu, while still in Canada on his way to the war.
  • Albert Egerton Grigg was in the 27th Light Horse from 17 April 1916.


  • His brother, Herbert George Grigg was drafted 30 Oct 1917. His fate is unknown.
  • Percy Israel Down joined 22 may 1918, one month after his 18th birthday. He survived.
  • George Aithie Sawers enlisted in the Canadian expeditionary Force on 20 May 1915. He had been in the Royal Scots before that. He survived.
Canadian Exidisionary forses

Film attached to this link!

  • William Aithie Nelson was drafted in Canada 7 Nov 1917. He survived and went on to serve again in WWII.
  • William Wallace Aithie enlisted in the Royal Scots as a private. He was killed in action 16 May 1915. He is buried or remembered at La Touret Memorial, Pas-de-Calais, in France.


  • Robert Aithie, in the Royal Scots, Lothian Regiment, died of wounds 27 Jan 1915 in France and Flanders. He is buried at Calais, France.
  • James J Aithie, a private in the Royal Scots, Lothian Regiment, 8th Battalion and was killed in Action 16 May 1917, in France, or Flanders. He is buried at Arras, Calas, France.
  • James A S Aithie, a private in the 1st Battalion, Cameronian Scottish Rifles (18th Royal Scots), died 8 May 1918, Lonnebeke, West Flanders.

1st-ww-troops flanders

  • William Aithie, a private in the Royal Scots, Lothian Regiment, was moved around to three different groups in it with three different service numbers, and lived through it all.

Royal Scotts

  • Charles Aithie was in the Gordon Highlanders, enlisting 13 August 1914 as a private. He served in France and was a prisoner of war.
  • Henry Aithie, George Aithie, George K Aithie, John Aithie, Thomas Aithie, all served and got medals. They seem to have lived (no death records).

Some of them enlisted together, up to three or four at one time: some lived, some did not. Twenty-three have been found so far.

I am grateful to each of them for the sacrifices they made and the legacy they have left to my family.