Deportation of Margaret Ellen Reid: A Tangled Web of Government Documents

Margaret Ellen Colbert ranks second in file size in my genealogical papers only surpassed by the file that I have for her grandfather John Pratt Campbell [my great grandfather]. Margaret became a person of research interest when a relative told me she had been deported from the USA.

Margaret’s birth record provided the following information:
-she was the daughter of John Colbert and Sarah Campbell
-her full name was Margaret Ellen Colbert
-she was born at Rat Portage, Manitoba 4 September 18831

Her first marriage record provided the following information:
-spouse Jacob Treffrey son of Henry Treffrey and Katherine Wismer
-date and place of marriage 22 October 1902 at Winnipeg, Manitoba
-no middle name was noted for Margaret2

The couple had farmland of questionable value and had difficulty making mortgage payments. Their farm was sold at auction in 1906. Jacob disappeared from official records afterwards and I have found no record of his death or a divorce to date. Margaret supported herself as a bookkeeper while living at home until marrying Samuel Jamieson Reid, son of George Reid and Martha Jamieson 13 November 1913 at Winnipeg. Her birthplace was recorded as Kenora, Ontario and her middle name as Ellen.3

Margaret died 15 May 1935 at the Manitoba Sanatorium, Ninette, Manitoba.4 No cause of death was specified but from the knowledge that she spent from 12 September 1932 until her death at the sanatorium, it was likely tuberculosis. Family stories support that supposition.

I did not follow up on the deportation claim until I happened to meet a fellow researcher at an Ontario Genealogical Society Conference who had used the Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act to seek US Citizenship and Immigration Services information about a relative. Using her advice I sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the US Department of Homeland Security. The package that I received from them noted that the family entered the USA officially 26 November 1927 at Pembina, North Dakota. It included a photocopy of her visa, an entry to the USA certification and a certified copy of the information from her Ontario birth record.5 Ontario? The birth information was different, recording her birth as 2 September 1882 at Kenora, Ontario. A bit more research solved the first issue. On 1 July 1881 the boundaries of Manitoba were enlarged to include part of what is now the province of Ontario. By 1889 an Imperial Act enlarged the boundaries of Ontario instead and thus Margaret’s birth record became an Ontario one. As to the name change for Rat Portage, local industries demanded a better town name and it became Kenora. The change in the date of Margaret’s birth may have been a bureaucratic recording error.

I still had no deportation information but Ancestry.ca came to the rescue with its collection US Records of Aliens Pre-examined in Canada 1922-1954. Both her original manifest card and an additional undated manifest card which referenced the original file number for Margaret Ellen (Elizabeth in brackets) provided the information that she was deported for the following reason:
“Alien had been ordered deported to Canada on grounds that she was LPC at time of entry and that she had become a public charge within five years after entry.”6

Interestingly, Margaret’s death record lists her second name as Elizabeth. Her husband Samuel did not become a naturalized citizen of the USA. Her daughter Sheila did as did her son Alexander Jamieson Reid. Her other son John Fitzgerald Reid served in the RCAF in World War II. I don’t know if he and Margaret’s other daughter Edna became naturalized citizens.

I have not yet made contact with living descendants of Margaret but would be interested in stories about her from their point of view.

1. Birth record for Margaret Ellen Colbert, Manitoba Vital Statistics, registration no. 1883-06-00200081.
2. Marriage record for Margaret Colbert and Jacob Treffrey, Manitoba Vital Statistics, registration no. 1902-002937.
3. Marriage record for Margaret Treffry and Samuel Jamieson Reid, Manitoba Vital Statistics, registration no. 1913-064208.
4. Death registration for Margaret Elizabeth Reid, Manitoba Vital Statistics, registration no. 1935-345[4 written in above the 5]3.
5. American Consular Service at Winnipeg, Manitoba Nonquota Immigration Visa for Margaret E. Reid, US Citizen and Immigration Services, received 31 July 2007.
6. Margaret Ellen [Elizabeth] Reid manifest card, attached to file no. 29793/F3, US, Records of Aliens Pre-examined in Canada, 1922-1954, downloaded from Ancestry.ca 15 August 2012. Note that I have the world collection access not just access to Canadian content. Both card images for Margaret are in this collection.

Alan Campbell
Editor
Lambton Lifeline
Lambton County Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society
Copyright 2018

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