Sara Gladys Muriel Langton was my first cousin 3 times removed. We are both descended from Francis Langton and Sarah Bishop who were her Grandparents, and my 3rd Great Grandparents. She is second cousin to Martha Richmire (who I posted about in February), and first cousin to Emma Maud Law (who I posted about in December) and to my Great Grandfather Joseph James Foster who I will write about toward the end of the project.
The youngest child of Francis Langton and Sarah Bishop was Albert Edward Langton. His father was 51 and mother was 45 when he was born in 1866, older parents even by today’s standards. His oldest sibling was 18 when he was born. Albert left Peterborough and his family at the age of 16. Although we can’t know the specific reason from the records available, it is very possible that with 9 surviving older siblings, 4 of which being brothers, there may not have been much in the way of prospects connected to any family business or agricultural endeavour for him to take on once he was of age. He moved to North Dakota where he worked as a railroad labourer. It was here that in 1889 he married Louise Millwood whose family was also originally from Canada. It appears that over the first 15 to 20 years of their marriage they moved frequently between North Dakota and southern Manitoba, their children being born almost alternately between the two regions. Sara, or Gladys, as she was more commonly known, their third child, was born in 1893 in Gretna, Manitoba, a border town between Canada and the United States. By 1906 it seems the family had permanently settled in Canada near Morris, Manitoba, 50 kilometres south of Winnipeg.
Richard Sackville Cresswell was born in Elham, Kent, and moved to Canada with his family in 1904 when he was 13 years old. He eventually began working for the railroad, as did Gladys’ father, as a brakeman. In early March 1915, at the age of 23, Ritchie enlisted in the 44th Overseas Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary force. This was a short-lived situation as by April 27 of the same year, he was discharged as medically unfit. There are no clues as to what the nature of the medical reason for the discharge may have been.
Ritchie and Gladys were married in November 1915, and settled continued to live in Manitoba. They had one daughter in 1916. Ritchie worked his entire career on the railway. He passed away in 1970, and Gladys passed away in 1984.
One has to wonder what the war years were like for Ritchie and Gladys. Although he had been deemed medically unfit, he was clearly not unable to work, and with only a month spent in Winnipeg training, it would not have been evident to those who knew him casually that he had, in fact, volunteered. As a man in his mid-20s, he would have been considered the ideal candidate for a recruit. The pressure being exuded through government propaganda as well as through the popular media of the time (mostly newspapers and novels) framed unwillingness to join as a character flaw, or a sign of cowardice. There was little public consideration given to a person’s or a family’s individual situation beyond how many boys they had “in khaki.” Much like it can be today though modern media, hyperbole was used to incite action for a specific cause, and this could create very deep divisions in and between communities. Perhaps this was not an issue for Gladys and Ritchie, but the fact that it could have been, is certainly worth some thought.