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Bacon Family Fonds (P025)

Excerpt from a Physiology notebook owned by Frederick John Abney Bacon (1870-1935) (detail), 1893. Bacon Family Fonds P025, P025/D2.1 © McCord Museum

Frederick John Abney Bacon, future doctor?

"Nov 17/93
Body = many cells that require food, castout [sic] waste, fed by blood. Loss of blood makes you pale & that is the proof of the motion of blood, also a system of tubes arranged with valves. Also blood can be seen circulating in some animals."

These observations on the vital functions of the circulatory system are found in the notebook Frederick John Abney Bacon kept for his Physiology class in 1893. The class was part of the program taken by first- and second-year medical students at McGill University, a program that also included classes in Anatomy, Histology, Chemistry and "Therapeutics." At that time, the medical curriculum took five years to complete.

Founded in 1829, the McGill faculty is the oldest in Canada. Within a few decades, under the leadership of John William Dawson (principal of McGill University from 1855 to 1893), the medical school was modernized, which resulted in the opening of the Royal Victoria Hospital in 1893, the founding of research chairs in hygiene and pathology, and the creation of teaching programs that made greater use of laboratory work. Young Bacon was thus a student during a time of great change and development for the faculty.

How long did Frederick John Abney Bacon pursue his ambition to become a doctor? It is impossible to know. However, history tells us that this Sherbrooke native turned instead to the field of education, working first as a teacher, and then as a principal for a school board.

P025 Bacon Family Fonds. - [1841-1907]. - 93 cm of textual records.

Biographical Sketch

Members of the Bacon family first settled in the Hatley area of the Eastern Townships some time in the 1800s. Charles James Stewart Bacon (1829?-1878) moved his family to the Sherbrooke region in the mid-1860s, after living in South Carolina for many years. It was there in about 1853 that he had married Mary Elizabeth Chapman (1833-1884), a native of Saluda County, South Carolina. The couple had six children: Charles Thomas Stewart Bacon (1867?-1873), Mary Emily Bacon (1862-1940), Sophie Estelle Bacon (1863-1943), Frederick John Abney Bacon (1870-1935), Carolina Amanda Isabelle Bacon (1874-?) and Lilian Eleanor Madison Bacon (1875-?).

In the mid-1860s, Charles James Stewart Bacon worked as a merchant and insurance agent in the areas of Sherbrooke, Hatley and Compton. He apparently continued to work until the end of his life. He was also a major landowner.

In 1871, he was appointed as official receiver for the judicial district of Saint-François, to handle bankruptcy and insolvency cases. In addition, he worked as an estate liquidator. Following his death in March 1878, his widow Mary Elizabeth Chapman took over the administration of the family's property and finances, as well as guardianship of the couple's children (with Samuel Justin Foss as co-guardian).

In April 1884, shortly before her death, Mary Elizabeth Chapman Bacon transferred guardianship to her daughter Mary Emily Bacon, who also began running the family's affairs, a responsibility she shouldered until at least the early 1900s. Her brother Frederick John Abney Bacon studied at Bishop's College School in Lennoxville, then entered medical school at McGill University in 1893. In the end, however, he pursued a career as a teacher before becoming a principal for a school board.

The Bacon family includes various other members, all related in some way to Charles James Stewart Bacon. These include Frederic Bacon (1826-1902), a farmer in the Hatley area; Charles' sisters Sarah Bacon (?-1861) and Emily Bacon (1811-1898); Caroline Bacon (1821-1896), an artist married to John Coleman (1818-1849); Caroline Sarah Bacon (1848-1887), the wife of Ernest V. Norton from Missouri; and John Weston Bacon from San José, California.

Scope and Content

The fonds focusses on the personal and interpersonal lives and professional and financial activities of members of the Bacon family. The documents primarily cover the latter half of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

A large share of the records in the fonds relate to Charles James Stewart Bacon. His personal affairs and relationships with certain family members are illustrated in correspondence written in the 1840s to 1870s. Various legal, financial and accounting documents chronicle the administration of his assets, along with his activities as an insurance agent, official receiver and estate liquidator.

The archives of Mary Elizabeth Chapman Bacon are made up primarily of financial and accounting records, correspondence and legal documents concerning the administration of the family's property after her husband's death. There are also several personal letters.

Mary Emily Bacon's activities as the administrator of the family's property are documented in numerous financial and accounting records, along with a voluminous correspondence. For the most part, these documents were produced between the mid-1880s and the early 1900s. Her personal interests and relationships are chronicled in letters she sent and received during the 1880s and 1890s, mainly with her sisters. Finally, the Mendelssohn Choir by-laws and several programs illustrate Mary Emily Bacon's involvement in this Montreal vocal ensemble.

School work, correspondence, and several financial records make up the documents related to Frederick John Abney Bacon.

The fonds is completed by diaries, account books and letters chronicling the activities of other Bacon family members, notably Caroline Amanda Isabelle Bacon and Frederic Bacon.

Title variations: Formerly known as the Charles James Stewart Bacon Family Fonds.

Source of title proper: Title based on the creators of the fonds.

Physical condition: Some documents are fragile and brittle.

Language: The documents are in English.

The fonds is divided into the following series, sub-series, and files :

  • P025/A Charles James Stewart Bacon
    • P025/A1 Personal and family correspondence
    • P025/A2 Finances and assets
    • P025/A3 Insurance agent activities. - 1866-1877. - 0.5 cm of textual records.
      Digitized documents

      Scope and Content:
      This sub-series documents just over a decade of Charles James Stewart Bacon's activities as an insurance agent in the Sherbrooke, Hatley and Compton areas. It contains home insurance, accident insurance and life insurance policies, receipts, premium notices, and correspondence. These documents were produced by companies like the Liverpool and London and Globe Insurance Company, the Stanstead & Sherbrooke Mutual Fire Insurance Company and the Travelers Insurance Company.

      Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the sub-series.

      Language: The documents are in English.

    • P025/A4 Official receiver and liquidator activities
    • P025/A5 Judicial affairs
    • P026/A6 Death and estate

  • P025/B Mary Elizabeth Chapman Bacon
    • P025/B1 Personal and family correspondence
    • P025/B2 Finances and assets
      • P025/B2,1 Financial and accounting records
        • P025/B2,1.1 Ledger. - 1859-1884. - 1 textual record ; 32.5 x 20 cm.
          Digitized document

          Scope and Content: Mary Elizabeth Chapman Bacon used this ledger to record certain household expenses. Though the ledger contains several entries dating from 1859 to 1862 when she and her husband Charles James Stewart Bacon still lived in the United States, the document focusses primarily on the period 1882 to 1884.

          Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the record.

          Language: The document is in English.

      • P025/B2,2 Letters and notes
      • P025/B2,3 Legal documents

  • P025/C Mary Emily Bacon
    • P025/C1 Personal and family correspondence
    • P025/C2 Finances and assets
      • P025/C2,1 Financial and accounting records
        • P025/C2,1.1 Ledger. - 1880-1890. - 1 textual record ; 32.5 x 20.5 cm.
          Digitized document

          Scope and Content: This ledger chronicles Mary Emily Bacon's involvement in running the family home in the years following the deaths of first her father, then her mother. The book records primarily household expenses, listing types and amounts, for the period 1880 to 1890.

          Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the record.

          Language : The document is in English.

      • P025/C2,2 Letters and notes
      • P025/C2,3 Legal acts
    • P025/C3 Mendelssohn Choir
    • P025/C4 Legal documentation

  • P025/D Frederick John Abner Bacon
    • P025/D1 Personal and family correspondence
    • P025/D2 Education. - [1886-1893, 1903]. - 4 cm of textual records.
      Digitized documents

      Scope and Content: This sub-series covers several aspects of Frederick John Abney Bacon's high school and university career. In addition to sketchbooks, it contains report cards from 1887 and 1888 that chronicle his academic performance at Bishop's College School in Lennoxville. There are also two class notebooks dated 1893, one for Physiology and the other for Histology, that he used as a first-year student at the McGill University medical school.

      Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the sub-series.

      Language: The documents are in English.

    • P025/D3 Finances and assets
    • P025/D4 Other

  • P025/E Other Bacon Family Members

  • P0253/F Other Documents


Last update: March 11, 2018