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Annetta's Family


Byron Seymore Johnstone, Son of John William O Johnstone and Mary Ann Best


John William O Johnstone:

Johnston(e) was one of the early families to arrive in Nova Scotia. Although our line is now known as Johnstone, in 1901 and prior the family name was Johnston as indicated on many census records and in many newspaper articles. It is unknown why or when the “e” was added.


According to the History of Kings County, one of most distinguished families Nova Scotia has ever has is the Johnstone family, who have been connected with the city of Halifax and with the counties of Kings and Annapolis. The family of the Johnstones of Annadale, Scotland, were first settled in Georgia and later immigrated to Canada. There is a government building in downtown Halifax, named the J W Johnston building after one of these immigrants. How or if we are related to this line is unknown.


Our line of the Johnstone family is descended from John William O. Johnstone and Mary Ann Best. John William was known by the name William and was nicknamed “Willie”. He was born on June 20,1836 in Grafton, Nova Scotia. He died in early 1903. It is unknown where he was buried. His wife was born on October 30,1828 in Long Point, Nova Scotia. She died on April 27,1910. Her burial location is unknown. It is interesting to note that the census 1871, 1881 and 1901 would indicate that Mary Ann was only one year older than her husband. In the 1891 census it indicated that she was six years older than her husband and her obituary indicated her real age to be in her 80’s at the time of her death.


It has not been possible to determine John William’s parentage despite exploring many different avenues. His obituary has not been located, his gravesite is unknown, and his marriage record can not be located, except in the marrying minister’s records.


According to the census records, John William was a carpenter and in 1901, he earned $200.


On June 13,1855, John William and Mary Ann Best were married. According to the marriage records maintained by the minister Rev. William Chipman, they were married at J. Bordain’s (this family name has been noted in other locations – the relationship to the couple is unknown) near the New Wharf. The banns were read only once as circumstances demanded it. There was no further information given. The payment for the wedding was 10 pounds and 7 ½ pence. The log does not indicate the parentage of William and Mary Ann.


Could this be Mary Ann Best and John William O Johnstone?



1)         Ella F., the first born child, was born in 1858 and she died on January 7, 1931 in Middletown, CT. Sometime prior to 1881, Ella left home, as she was not listed on the census for that date. According to her daughter who is still alive and living in Connecticut, Ella never talked about her family, Nova Scotia, or her youth. Marjorie her daughter, remembers that for many years her family would get a barrel of apples from the relatives in Nova Scotia. She went to live with a cousin in Brooklyn, NY at an early age. It is likely that she went to live with some Best relatives who were living in New York. She first married a man named Stack, had a daughter called “Queenie”, actual name was Helene. Mr. Stack came from an Irish family, supposedly very wealthy, at least Ella received a substantial sum after his death. Queenie also died very young. Ella married Robert Pike second in 1885 and they had six children: Robert (Jr.), William, Dorothy, Sydney, Elsie, Marjorie (1903-). Marjorie married George T. Holbrook and they had three children: Diantha Treat Holbrook (3 children, 4 G'Ch.); George T., Jr. (3 children, 2 grandchildren); Tamsen T. Harris (presently living in Connecticut), 3 children. She and her husband came to Nova Scotia and made connection with our line.

2)         Byron Seymore was born on February 3, 1861 and died on March 22, 1908. He was married to Annette Floyd from Saint Martin’s, New Brunswick

3) Wallace S. was born in 1865, his fate is a mystery, although some family members thought he became an actor and changed his name to "Stone", apparently there was an actor by that name who bore a strong resemblance. He was living in San Francisco at the time of his brother Bryon’s death.


4) Ernest Fenwick was born on April 12, 1867 in Grafton, Nova Scotia. He died 1938 in Rutland, Vermont. He married Edna GRAY of Boston in 1894. They had one child Mildred Sylvia. Ernest second married Jessie Mossman Phelps and they had one child Gueneth. Ernest graduated with his law degree in 1892 and his masters of law in 1893 from the University of Michigan. He later studied with a dentist in Boston and he became known as an extraction specialist. He wrote at least two books of poetry and he was named “Poet of Vermont”. His most famous poem was called “There are no Vermonters in Heaven”.



Ernest Fenwick             Mildred Sylvia, daughter    Ernest’ s business card



Mary Ann Best


Mary Ann Best was the daughter of John Peck Best and Elizabeth Mumford. She was one of at least four children. Her known siblings were William Henry, Margaret and Albert. John Peck Best was the son of John Burbidge Best and Hannah Peck.