Tin Mine at St. Agnes Head Cornwall


As told by Patricia Aunger Solmes and Dorcas Lee Aunger

(Click here to read Dorcas Aunger’s intro)

 When Richard Aunger was born on March 30, 1806,  in St. Clether,  Cornwall, England,  his father,  Thomas was 32 and his mother,  Catherine was 32. He married Jael) (Jane Bastard on Nov. 5, 1829.

St. Clether, Cornwall, England

When Jael Jane Bastard was born in 1807 in Boscastle,  Cornwall, England,  her father,  Thomas,  was 39,  and her mother,  Elizabeth Turner Laskey,  was 39.     They had 11 children in 20 years.  Richard died on December 19, 1871,  in Linkinhorne, Cornwall,  England,  at the age of 65.  Jane died on November 8, 1872,  in Cornwall,  England,  at the age of 65.

While sons,   George and Renfury,   stayed in Cornwall,  all the other children emigrated to North America,  in search of mining work.  But it was John Laskey Aunger who would leave his mark in the Marmora area.

John Laskey Aunger in the regalia of Marmora Lodge No. 222 AF&AM. He served that lodge as Master seven terms and while he was Master, raised five of his sons as Master Masons. In this picture he is serving in the office of Tyler of the Lodge.

John Laskey Aunger's second wife, Mary Jane Merriam

Dorcas Lee Aunger has added:

Mary Jane Merriam was the daughter of Joseph T. Merriam and Margery Stanbury. Margery was a cousin to Catherine, John Laskey Aunger’s first wife. Margery’s mother had died in childbirth with her. Her father, William Stanbury was a ship’s captain and couldn’t care for a tiny baby at sea, so gave Margery to his brother Edward to raise. Margery grew up in the Edward Stanbury home, as a sister to Edward and Mary Jane’s children. So Mary Jane Merriam was actually a first cousin once removed to Catherine Stanbury Aunger, but considered by Catherine to be her niece. Some records say that Margery was adopted by Edward and Mary Jane, but I can find no proof of that.”

John Laskey Aunger  

John Laskey Aunger worked in the tin mines at Land's End,  Cornwall,  England, from the age of 12 years for 12 pence per day.  He became skilled with hammer and drill,  and by the time he was 16 years of age,  many old miners were seeking to employ him for full miner's pay.  He worked in the Cornwall mines,  St, Ives area,  until he was 20

In 1852,  he emigrated to Canada.  He sought out his aunt and uncle,  Edward and Mary Jane Stanbury in Northumberland County, Ontario,  and then married their daughter,  Catherine,  his first cousin in 1855. ( See house at left)

After their first child, Edwin, was born in Seymour Township, the family moved to Rockland, Ontonagan County in Michigan, where John went to work in the Lake Superior Copper Mines,  Minnesota Mines. . John was the first of the Aunger Family to go there. He did so well and wrote such glowing letters home to England, that soon he was joined there by his brothers, Edwin, and Frederick. and Frederick’s family; his wife Martha Jones, and his three children, John, Elizabeth Jane, and George.

Dorcas Lee Aunger adds:

On 11 July 1861, an accident in the mine occurred when timbers fell. In this accident Frederick was killed.  Edwin was the first to leave Michigan. I haven’t been able to folllow him directly. I next  find him in Southampton, Massachusetts, when he married Mary Ann Pinch in 1865.  John remained in Rockland for at least a year. His daughter, Mary Jane, was only a year old and his wife, Catherine, was pregnant with their fourth child, John Albert.  By March of 1864, they had returned to Ontario, and were in Campbellford, Northumberland, where John and Catherine’s fifth child, Eliza Emelin was born and were still there in 1867 when Victoria Annie was born.

I’m not sure when Frederick’s family left Michigan, or their motive for going from there to Ashabula, Ohio. They settled there, and there are many of Frederick’s descendants in that area today.

The second child,  Edward,  was born in Michigan,  as were the third and fourth children,  Mary Jane and John Albert, but between 1867 and 1869, John moved his family to Blairton, Ontario, during which time his next three children ,  Emeline, Victoria and Bethelda,  were born. Bethelda, born in Blairton on Jan 17, 1869, was only 18 months old when her mother died.on June 27, 1870. 

By the first of November of that year,  John Laksey Aunger had married his niece,  Mary Jane Merriam,  who had promised her aunt she would take care of her children.  Together,  John and Mary Jane went on to have five more children.

Edward Stanbury and Mary Jane Aunger Stanbury

In 1852, John emigrated to Canada and sought out his aunt and uncle, Edward Stanbury and Mary Jane Aunger, living in Seymour Township, whose daughter, Catherine, he later married

the Edward Stanbury Home in Seymour Twp., built in 1832, where John Lasky Aunger first went when he arrived in Canada, where he met his future wife, Catherine, where he was married, and where his first child was born.

Photos taken in 2012 by Dorcas Aunger. Lot 7 Concession 10 (112.5 acres) plus pt Lot 7 Concession 9, 15 acres

Added by Dorcas Lee Aunger:

Catherine Stanbury Aunger was first buried near her parents, in Wests Cemetery in Seymour Township, Northumberland. When the new Maple Grove Cemetery was established in Havelock, John purchased a large plot and had her reinterred there.

An obituary for Catherine appeared in the Ontario Christian Guardian on Aug. 31, 1870, page 137, stating:

 “Aunger, Mrs Catherine, daughter of Edward and Mary Stanbury, was born in England in 1831 and came to Canada with her parents shortly after that, settling in Seymour Township. She was converted c. 25 years ago, and married about 10 years later.”

This conversion would have been at the time of her marriage to John. Catherine was born in Devonshire, England, but was baptized at St. Breward Parish, Cornwall, in a non-conformist, Methodist, ceremony. These ceremonies were often done in secret, away from the family’s dwelling place, because it was illegal to belong to a church other than the Church of England 

John and second wife, Mary Jane Merriam John and first wife, Catherine Stanbury

White Hart, Cambourne, Cornwall

London Inn, Redruth, Cornwall

Ledyards Gold Mine, East half of Lot 19, Conc. 1 Belmont Twp. 1893-1896

In 1872, John Aunger was employed by the Cobourg, Peterborough and Marmora Railway and Mining Company and  in August 1873, the company sent him back to Cornwall to recruit men to work in the mines of Canada. He remained in Cornwall several weeks, making his head-quarters at Cambourne and Redruth. When he returned, he brought out seventy-five men,  all of whom were desperately looking for work due to the depression in the mining industry in England at that time.

He returned to Canada on a ship which had laid a cable under the Atlantic Ocean, and brought back as a souvenir, a piece of scrap from the cable. In 1982, this memento was in the possession of his grandson, William Robert George Aunger.

When John and Mary Jane's first child, Frederick, was born in 1874, John was serving as overseer of the Blairton Iron Mines, a position he held for several years.

By 1882, there was very little activity at the Blairton Mines, and the town's population was down to slightly more than 300. The mines, equipment, and about 30,000 acres of land were sold by court order to Thomas P. Pearce of Marmora.  Many of the vacant homes were dismantled and the materials from them shipped west. With the mines closing, John left his family in Blairton and tried his hand at mining in Quebec. He was located there in 1884, when the last of his children was born.

Returning to Blairton, John went to work for the Thomas P. Pearce Company, keeping their accounts, and collecting the rents. He continued in this capacity for a number of years, the records showing him still in their employment in 1900.

John became Deputy Reeve of Belmont Township, and continued serving in this capacity at least through 1894, at which time he served the united townships of Belmont and Methuen.

Redruth Council History Notes:  

Given the importance of mining to local employment it was a major catastrophe when plummeting world prices of copper and tin caused the closure of many mines or the sharp reduction of wages at those left open. The depression of 1866/67 heralded the bad times. In 1867 a "house to house visitation has revealed destitution scarcely equalled in the back slums of the metropolis and certainly never dreamt of as occurring in Redruth ... men going underground to work without breakfast". The distress and trauma caused by the contraction of mining would have been worse had it not been for an option increasingly grasped by 19th century Cornish men and women - emigration. After the 1860s thousands of Redruth people left their homes for better prospects; some went to the mines and factories of Northern England and South Wales, but many more went overseas to North America, Australia and, later in the 1890s, to South Africa.

Did you know.......

 It is estimated that 6 million people worldwide are  descendants of the Cornish miners that emigrated from Cornwall between 1815 and 1915.  On July 13, 2006,  the mines of Cornwall were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO



 During his years of work in the various mines, John had made a large, but informal rock collection. In 1886, he sold 1000 "mineral specimens of great note" to P. T. Barnum of N.Y., for his museum. After that, John began collecting minerals unceasingly and in earnest, until he had what one newspaper reported as "one of the finest collections of minerals in existence."  He discovered the Ledyard Gold Mine in 1892, and in that same year supplied the minerals for the display of the Ontario Crown Lands Department at the Worlds Fair in Chicago.  In 1894, he made a gift of mineral specimens to the county, which were displayed in the form of a pyramid on the grounds to the south of the courthouse at Peterborough. There were several hundred specimens in the gift, almost all of which were collected in the eastern part of the county.  But weather and vandalism have taken their toll. The pyramid no longer exists.

 John Laskey Aunger had a gift for words. From the 1880's through the early years of the 1900's, he was a frequent contributor to such newspapers as the Havelock Standard, the Marmora Herald, the Norwood Register, the Examiner, and the North Hastings Review. He submitted such items as local news, letters to the editor, opinions (particularly on mining and mineral subjects), local history, and observations on various facets of life. Occasionally, he would submit poetry, much of which was satirical. He was known to readers of the Marmora Herald as "Our Blairton Correspondent."

Click to read a sample : Letter to the Editor 1911 by J.L. Aunger

Mary Jane died of heart disease at their home in Blairton, after years of affliction with pernicious anemia.  Shortly after Mary Jane's death, the Pearce Company finally acknowledged that the days of the Blairton Mines were over. Transportation of the ore was prohibitively expensive and discovery of competitive fields along Lake Superior eclipsed the Blairton operations. Finally, water from Crowe Lake was seeping into the shafts faster than the company could pump it out. The population of Blairton was down to fifty people, and Pearce Company was so far behind in what it owed John Laskey Aunger, it decided to give him the mine and house property in lieu of salary. The transaction was never recorded.

In 1912, John wrote his last will and testament.  The year 1924 was a leap year, and on Feb. 29, John, aged 91 years, 9 month, and 14 days, passed away quietly. He was buried next to Catherine and Mary Jane in Maple Grove Cemetery, Havelock, Ontario.

Children of John Laskey Aunger and Catherine Stanbury

1. Edwin Henry Aunger was born on July 28, 1856, in Canada, his father, John, was 24 and his mother, Catherine, was 25. He married Edith Rosella Brown on October 16, 1878, in Peterborough, Ontario. They had six children in 18 years. He died on April 26, 1941, in Los Angeles, California, USA, at the age of 84.

Edwin Henry Aunger 1919 Passport photo

1919 Aunger, Edith Rosaella (Brown).jpg

Dorcas Aunger writes: The pictures of Edwin Henry Aunger & Edith Rasaella Brown Aunger, above, ,are passport photos.  They were preparing to visit their son Clyde Albert, who had gone to Australia at the request of the government in Canberra, and had been there for two years, building factories in each state to teach the Aussies how to make and fit prostheses due to the many casualties in the Battle at Gallipoly.

Edwin Henry Aunger was apprenticed to a blacksmith as a teenager. In 1874, he was working as a blacksmith for the Cobourg, Peterborough and Marmora Railway and Mining Company at  the Blairton Mines, Upper Pit. However there were already two other blacksmiths in town, and as the mines were beginning to decline, there was not enough work for three blacksmiths.
In 1878, he married Edith Rasaella Brown, [note difference in spelling from Pat Solmes] daughter of John Brown and Elizabeth Holcomb Dafoe of Rockdale and quickly found that his wages would not support a family. In Oct. 1880, he, Edith and their first son, Edwin John Frederick, emigrated via the Grand Trunk Railroad to the U.S. His port of entry was at Buffalo, NY. He established his home and his own blacksmith shop in Ashtabula, Ohio.  This would have been a natural destination as his uncle, Frederick's family was already established there.


Edwin John Frederick Aunger 1879-1940 George Stanbury Aunger 1882-1966 Catherine Elizabeth Aunger 1885-1976 Clyde Albert Aunger 1887-1971
Ernest Dafoe Aunger 1895-1988
Edith May Aunger 1898-1978

1917 Clyde Albert Aunger

2.  Edward Stanbury Aunger was born on August 19, 1858, in Rockland, Michigan, USA, his father, John, was 26 and his mother, Catherine, was 27. He died on March 16, 1859, in his hometown within a year of his birth.

3.  Mary Jane Aunger was born on April 18, 1860, in Ontonagon, Michigan, USA, her father, John, was 27, and her mother, Catherine, was 29. She married Daniel Thomas Young (son of William Edward Young and Maria Campion*) on March 1, 1882, in Blairton, Ontario.  They lived in Rockdale , near Blairton, Ontario until after 1890. Four of their children are buried there in a single grave. They had had eleven chidren in 16 years. By 1911, they had moved to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan where they lived for the rest of their lives. She died on April 24th, 1921 at the age of 61

(*Maria Campion’s sister was Margaret Campion who married Thomas Peter Pearce)


John Stan Leigh Young 1885-?
George D. Young 1887-?
Lilly Young ?- died young
Tully Young - 1889-died young
Maria Cecil Young - 1890-?
Harry Arnold Young - 1892-1952 Anne Young ?-died young
Daniel T. Young 1896-?
William Edward Young ?-?
Neil Young ?-1982
Carleton Young 1900-?

4.  John Albert Aunger was born on April 9, 1862, in Michigan, USA, his father, John, was 29 and his mother, Catherine, was 31. He took ill suddenly and died on Aug. 22, 1885  at the age of 23 having just graduated from Ontario Business College in Belleville. He is buried in his father’s plot at Maple Grove Cemetery, Havelock, Ontario.

5.  Eliza Emeline Aunger was born on March 17, 1864, in Campbellford, Ontario, her father, John, was 31, and her mother, Catherine, was 33. She married Dr. William G. Sprague, MD. Some of the family called her “Aunt Dot”. She worked for a while before marriage, as a telephone operator in Toronto. Eliza and William had two children:    Louah , female   and   Rosoe, male. She died on April 15, 1950, at the age of 86.

6.  Victoria Annie Aunger was born on January 28, 1867, in Ontario, Ontario, her father, John, was 34, and her mother, Catherine, was 36. She married Herbert Malcolm Moxon on June 8, 1892 in Blairton, Peterborough County, Ont. and they resided all the rest of their lives in Picton, Prince Edward County. Herbert was the son of John Moxon and Helen Busseau of Picton She died on October 18, 1934 in Picton, Ontario at the age of 67.She and her husband are buried in the Moxon plot in Glenwood Cemetery. No known children

7. Bethelda Laskey "Belle" Aunger was born on January 17, 1869, in Peterborough, Ontario, her father, John, was 36, and her mother, Catherine, was 38. She married Frank Grey Tice, (son of Lewisd Tice and Sarah Tice) on July 19, 1893, in her hometown. She died on July 16, 1937, in Oswego, New York, USA, at the age of 68. No known children.

The Aunger house

Brian Henry Aunger added:     My great great grandfather was John Laskey AUNGER. His first son, Edwin Henry Sr., was my father's namesake. Edwin Henry became a blacksmith and carriage wright in Ohio. In 1911 he sold his shop, bought a brand new Buick, and drove to Los Angles. My grandfather Ernest was 7 years old then and would recount to me stories of camping along the road during that trip. This trip may have been inspired by the early automobile adventures of Edwin Henry's cousin Murray Aunger in Australia who crossed that continent by automobile a few years earlier, and later, drove the perimeter.

Your website is an amazing find for me and beautifully composed. I grew up hearing about the mineral collection and found only an obscure reference to John and the Blarton mine a few years ago. Thank you for filling in so much about my heritage and accomplishments of my great great grandfather.

And then, in December of 2018, his second cousin, Dorcas Lee Aunger of Arcadia, California, wrote to us with a correction:

“Brian is my second cousin. Brian is mistaken on the time frame of the trip to California. It was not in 1911, but in 1916 . Brian’s grandfather, Ernest Dafoe Aunger had just graduated from High School in Ashtabula in 1915. “

Top to bottom: Arlene Aunger, Jackie Youmans, Edith Youmans, Rosemary Noseworthy, Pat Aunger, Marie Cook Ruby Youmans

Bob Cook, Murray Wlker, Jim Wallbridge, Bob Aunger, Glen Niles, Bob Walker

The Aunger house on Highway #7, east of county line

The Aunger house on Highway #7, east of county line

Children of John Laskey Aunger and Mary Jane Merriam

1. Frederick Laskey Aunger was born on March 3, 1874, in Peterborough, Ontario, his father, John, was 41 and his mother, Mary, was 29. He married Mary Jane “Minnie” Mason (daughter of Levi Mason and Jane Green of Springbrook, Ontario) on March 15, 1899, in Springbrook, Ontario.

At one time Fred lived in Trenton, where he was manager of the great concentrator owned by Canada Iron Mines, Ltd. He was a charter member of Marmora Masonic Lodge No. 222 AF&AM which he joined in 1908. About 1915, he moved his family to Edwards, New York, where he was superintendent of the St. Joseph Lead Co. He died on November 3, 1940, in Edwards, New York, USA, at the age of 66.He is buried in Fairview Cemetery, Edwards, NY. Fred and Minnie had six children


Leland Verne 1900-1968 Jennie Evelyn Aunger 1903-1975 Frederick Mason 1904-1964,  Olive Laskey Bernier 1906 - ? twin of Ena (may have died young) Ena Maye 1906-1971 Edwin Cecil 1908-1981

2. Henry “Harry” Wolsley Wilkinson Aunger was born on May 15, 1878, in Peterborough, Ontario, his father, John, was 46 and his mother, Mary, was 33. He married Fanny Ann RYLOTT on October 3, 1900, in Havelock, Ontario. She was the daughter of William Rylot and Alice Van Norman of Belmont Twp. After marriage, they lived first at Cordova Mines, then Carleton Place and after 1908 at Smith Falls. He was a conductor for the Canadian Pacific Railroad. He died on February 14, 1960, in Canada at the age of 81.They are buried in Hillcrest Cemetery, Smiths Falls.


John Laskey 1902-1987,  Viola Pearl 1906-1945,  Kenneth 1922-1973

3.  George Renfrey Aunger was born on May 31, 1880(or 1881), in Peterborough, Ontario, his father, John, was 48 and his mother, Mary, was 35. He ran a variety store on Madoc Street, in Marmora, Ontario and was a member of Marmora Lodge No 222, AF&AM. He never married and died on July 24, 1966, in Belleville, Ontario, at the age of 86.

George R. Aunger, Handy Store Madoc Street...south side and a bit east of Victoria St.

George Aunger, Catherine Way, Arlene & Pat Aunger 1950

4.  Florence Lillian May Aunger was born on April 8, 1882 , in Blairton, Peterborough County, Ontario. Her father, John, was 49, and her mother, Mary, was 37. She entered the U.S in 1918 to get work and lived there as an alien resident. She worked in Washington, D.C. as an assistant treasurer of a corporation. While she was there she did a lot of research at the Library of Congress, especially on the Merriam branch of the family. The midwife who delivered her was Mrs. S. H. McCay. She never used the name Florence. After World War II she moved back to Montreal where she was the proprietor of a store. She never married. She died on June 1, 1963 in Montreal, Quebec at the age of 80.

(Conflicting information: She died on April 14, 1950, in Havelock, Ontario, at the age of 68.)

5.  William “Will” Richard Aunger was born on September 12, 1884, in Blairton, Peterborough County, Ontario. His father, John, was 52 and his mother, Mary, was 39. On October 20 1931, he married Mabel Josephine Anderson, daughter of Robert David Anderson and Elizabeth Daw in Bancroft, Ontario.

William farmed at Marmora where he was a member of St. Andrews United Church and the Havelock Masonic Lodge. In the 1911 census, Will and his brother, George were living with their father at lot 7 con 1. All three were listed as farmers. Next door at Lot 7 con 2, was brother Frederick with wife, Minnie and their 3 children.

ON Sept 12, 1918, Will registered for the draft at Silverton, Colorado as a citizen of Canada. He was working for the Sunnyside Mining and Milling Company at Eureka, San Juan County, Colorado. On the back of the registration card it noted that he was tall, medium build, blue eyes, brown hair, no deformities. In Dec. 1918, Will had evidently been to visit his sister, (Florence)Lillian in Washington, D.C. He is listed in the border crossings at Niagara Falls. His occupation was millwright and he was traveling by GTR (Grand Trunk Railroad) from Washington, D.C. to Havelock, Ontario.

Aunger dog and wheels from blairton ore car

On 22 October 1951, an article in the Lethbridge Herald (Lethbridge, Ontario, Canada) relates, “Marmora, Ont -- William Aunger, celebrated gladiolus grower in this district north of Belleville, has 100 different varieties
blooming this month. One of his varieties, the ‘Joe Shiberet’, won a first prize at last year’s
Canadian National Exhibition.” He died on June 1, 1963, in his hometown at the age of 78.


Arlene Mary (living),  William (Bob) 1934-2001,  Patricia M.,Aunger Solmes 1937 (living)

Blairton School Group: Ruby Youmans, Murray Walker, Bob Cok, Arlene Aunger, Jackie Youmans, Bob Aunger, Noseworthy, Bob Walker, Edith Youmans, Jim Wallbridge, Marie Cook, Glen Niles, Pat Aunger

Dorcas Lee Aunger writes regarding the photo on the right:

This is a four generation picture. If you had added me to the picture it would be five generations. At the top is my grandfather, George Stanbury Aunger. Below and to the left is my great-great-grandfather, John Laskey Aunger. In the middle is my father, George Henry Aunger, who was about 6 months old when the picture was taken, for Christmas 1908. On the right is my great-grandfather, Edwin Henry Aunger. I suspect John travelled from Canada to see his first great-grand child, and that the picture was taken in Ashtabula. At that time, the George Stanbury Aunger family was living in Oil City, Pennsylvania,