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THRASHER, Philemon and Elizabeth Curry; and Mary Birdwhistle

Philemon Thrasher came from the United States as part of the large group of American Colonists who wanted to stay loyal to  the British Crown. These United Empire Loyalists poured into the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario region in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. There he met and married the first of his two wives and like many others; they were lured by the opportunity of free Crown Land in the frontier of Westmeath Township. This couple are very early settlers in the area of Greenwood in the northwestern corner of the township of Westmeath.

In the 1851 Census for Westmeath Township, two generations of Thrashers are listed. Two Philemon Thrashers;  Junior  and Senior. The Senior household is made up of  the four youngest children and second wife Mary Birdwhistle.

THRASHER Philemon Jr. M 26y M CW E PRES Farmer Shanty
THRASHER Philemon Sr. M 52y M USA E WM Farmer Log
THRASHER Elisabeth F 8y S CW E WM

Two Thrasher brothers George and Philomen Jr.,  sons of Pilomen Thrasher Sr. would marry Mangon women -two sisters Mary and Sarah.  Charlotte Spafford Loggie has submitted the story of the “kinship network” beween these families. (It also contains a piece of high drama!).

Charlotte explains  how she learned the story:  ” The families of Switzer, Mangan and Thrasher have a long and storied history in Westmeath Township. Information received from Doris Thrasher Spafford, daughter of Middleton John Thrasher and Brien Thrasher, son of Edward Thrasher, gives a very complete account of how the Switzer and Mangon families intertwined with the Thrasher family.” 

The Intertwined  Switzer, Mangan and Thrasher Families

by Charlotte Spafford Loggie

Mary and Sarah Mangan came to Canada West in 1841 with their mother, Frances Switzer Mangan McDonough (1810-­1883) and their grandmother Sarah Switzer(1781-­1851 ). Their graves are pictured in the online pictorial record of graves in the Greenwood United Church Cemetery..

The Switzers were a Palatine Irish family who were from the Southwell estate near Limerick and emigrated due to Tea Tablea tragedy, (told in family lore), in which Frances’ husband,  John Mangan, was shot at the tea table before the very eyes of his wife and children, allegedly due to some political strife in which Mr. Mangon had taken part.

In 1993 Brien Thrasher (Reverend Robert O’Brien Duncan Thrasher 1928­-2012), visited Limerick and was able to access more information about what might have occurred in the death of Mr. Mangon. By talking with the Irish author, Sean S.Pellissy and an artist named Tony Browne of Limerick, Brien learned that, in Tony’s words,

“The Mangan man could have been an agitator or an informer of one. It seems that at that time in Ireland, agitators were a common activity. They would, in the deep of night, agitate the opposition by moving about in bands.

 “They would strike at a landholder’s farm by digging up the crops and turn them over to destruction or slaughter their cattle. The landholder would wake in the dawn to be met by this ruin. If the Mangon was fighting this and informed, then death would be his certain fate.”

Following this tragic death, Frances married again, this time to Michael McDonough. Apparently she wished to make quite a new start and is reputed to have said,  “Enough of this crazy Ireland! We are going to Canada!”

They did emigrate, and eventually ended up in Westmeath Township where the two daughters (Mary and Sarah) married two Thrasher brothers George and Philemon.

George and Philemon were the sons of Philemon Thrasher 1st, (1798-­1853) and Elizabeth Curry (1791-­1833) who, in addition to George Thrasher (1822-­1901) and Philemon Thrasher 2nd (1827-­1876), had Margaret Thrasher (b.1829) and Abraham Thrasher(b. 1833 d.1913). Elizabeth died in 1833 and Philemon remarried a woman named Mary Boyd (also known as Mary Boyd Birdwhistle). Mary was born in Ireland in 1819. She and Philemon went on to have a daughter, Mary, born 1835 and Hiram b. 1838 and Elisabeth b. 1843.

Descendants of Philemon Thrasher  &  (1) Elizabeth Curry

The first of Philemon’s two wives was  (1) ELIZABETH CURRY (1792-1835), and they had five children. They married in 1821 in Grenville County, Ont. when she was 29 years old.   See CURRY entry. Her family is listed in the “The Loyalists in Ontario” with the following entry:


According to the Curry entry, the young couple was located in South Gower. Elizabeth would die at age 43 in 1835.  With files from Charlotte Spafford Loggie; Philemon and Elizabeth’s children were:

1.  George  Thrasher (1822-1901) m. Mary Mangan (182-1911) in 1851. George was born in S. Gower, Grenville County, Ont. and was baptized in 1826 at Saint  Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Prescott, Edwardsburg Township.  Mary was from Limerick, Munster Province, Ireland. On her tombstone the surname is spelled Mangan.  Their children are:

Thrasher-Mangan stone, Greenwood Cemetery

Thrasher-Mangan stone, Greenwood Cemetery

1.)  Abraham Thrasher (1852-1927) m.  (1) Elizabeth Bingham (1852-1886), daughter of James Bingham and Margaret Curry in Ramsey Township, Lanark County. 1875 Abraham & Elizabeth Marriage. Elizabeth and Abe’s children were James Bingham Thrasher; Samuel Thrasher; Harvey Earnest Thrasher; Mary Ethel Thrasher.

Then Abraham m. (2) Francis Jane Holt (1862- ); her children were William Moisten Thresher; George E. Thrasher; Elizabeth Bingham Thrasher;  Francis May Thrasher; Charlotte Amanda Thrasher; Myrtle Edna Thrasher; Beatrice Alexandra Thrasher.

Abraham & Jane Holt Thrasher

Abraham & Jane Holt Thrasher

2.)   Philemon Thrasher (1853-1917)  m. Jessie A. Serson (1861-1946) and were living in Ross Township, Renfrew County. Their children:

i.  Mary Jane Thrasher (1884-1933) m. Wellington Vandausan (1881-1950) in Foresters Falls, Ont..

ii. John Mangan Thrasher (1888- ) m. Nellie Elizabeth Mills (1902-  ). They were married in Kenora District in 1922.

iii.  Sarah Thrasher (1890-  ) m. John Lawrence Stoodley (1883-1926) in Forester’s Falls, Ross Township.

iv.   Thomas George Thrasher (1892

v.  Margaret Thrasher (1895- ) m. George S. Brennan. Their daughter Rachel Brennan m. Thomas Harold Graham (1899- ). See GRAHAM entry.

vi.  Annie Thrasher (1897-  ) m. Ernest Smith (1897-  ) in 1915 in Toronto, York County at age 17 years.

vii. Donald McLeod Thrasher, (1900-1989) m. Jean Milvera Cowie (1905-1974) Thrasher, Harvey

 viii.  Emma Jane Thrasher (1903-1989) m. Robert Adolf Haus Heitmenn in Toronto in 1921 at age 18 years.

ix.  Elizabeth Curry Thrasher m. George Edward Aldridge.

3.)   Sarah Thrasher (1855-1897) m. (1) James Galbraith (1849- ). In the 1881 Census this couple is living in the Town of Pembroke and he is a “sector foreman” as an occupation. This is probably a job with a railroad.  In 1887 Sarah Galbraith is a widow marrying (2) Joseph Wark who is a Ross Township farmer. 1887 Sarah-JosephMarriage Reg.. Sarah is buried at Greenwood Cemetery.

Jim Galbraith

Jim Galbraith

Sarah Thrasher Galbraith

Sarah Thrasher Galbraith

4.)   Frances “Fanny” Thrasher (1857-1918) m. Thomas Davidson in 1877 at Westmeath Methodist Church. 1877 Fanny & Thomas Marriage.  See DAVIDSON entry. They had three children: Robert Edward Davidson (1879 – 1883); Kathleen Jane Davidson (1882 –; Abraham Davidson (1885 – 1886). Two of the children died in infancy.

Thrasher-Davidson stone, Beachburg Cemetery

Thrasher-Davidson stone, Beachburg Cemetery

5.)   Margaret Thrasher (1859-1899) m. George  McKeddie (1858-1932) in 1884. In the 1901 Census George is widowed and living with two daughters Ethel McKeddie (1886- ) and Jessie McKeddie (1893- ). His occupation is a Section Foreman in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

6.)   Anna Thrasher (1860-1909) m. James McLean. The 1891 Census shows the family with four children farming in Westmeath Township.


7.)   John Currie Thrasher (1864-1925) m. Emma Stevens (1862- )  in 1887 and in the 1901 Census the family was living in Village of Cobden, Ross Township, with one daughter Eva M. Thrasher, aged 10 years. By the 1916 Census the family was living in Kindersley, Saskatchewan.

8.)   Emma Thrasher (1866-1955) m. Robert “Bob” Cotnam, son of George Cotnam and Catherine Lee of Allumette Island. 1885 Cotnam-Thrasher Marriage.  They farmed outside of Pembroke on the Greenwood Road.  See COTNAM entry.

9.)   George Thrasher (1869-1941) m. Mary Ann Hawkins (1872-1926).

George Thrasher was a school trustee for S.S. No. 9, Greenwood School.

George Thrasher was a school trustee for S.S. No. 9, Greenwood School.

Mary & George Thrasher with children

Mary & George Thrasher with children

Mary and George with younger children.

Mary and George with younger children.

Their children were:

i. Cora Thrasher (1894-

ii. Mary Eliza Thrasher (1895-1980) m. Arthur George Waite

Mary Thrasher & George Waite

Mary Thrasher & George Waite

iii. Henry Alfred “Harry” Thasher (1896-1977) Thrasher,Harry 1896-1977  m. Elizabeth Tate.

iv. Abraham John Thrasher (1898-1957) m. Catherine Carnegie ( -1963). See CARNEGIE entry.

v.  Isaac Michael Thrasher (1900-1973) m. Gladys Louise Kennedy (1901-  ).

Isaac Thrasher school trustee at S.S. No. 9, Greenwood School

Isaac Thrasher  was a school trustee at S.S. No. 9, Greenwood School

vi. Lydia Gertrude Thrasher (1910-2008)

2.  Philemon Thresher Jr. (1827-1876)  m.  Sarah Mangon (1831-1918) and they suffered a horrific loss, when on Feb. 25th 1872,  a house fire  killed five of the children all under the age of 11 years. Thasher Fire. A lamp had been knocked over. Philemon was away and Susan was working in the barn. Susan was badly burned trying to save her children. In 1876 Philemon was killed by a lightning strike while sheltering under a tree. Sarah was Mary Mangon’s sister; married to Philemon’s brother.  Their children were:

i.   John Thrasher m. Jane Dennison

ii. Philemon Thrasher (3rd) (1854-1929)  married  Harriett Alfreda O’Brien (1858-1930), from a large Westmeath township family. See O’BRIEN entry. The children of Philemon and Harriett were:

1) Jeannette “Jennie”  Thrasher  b. 1881 d. 1977, m. Thomas Gibson in 1904.

2)  William “Willy” Thrasher b. 1884, d. 1935, m. Sarah Jane “Sadie” Poff  (1881­1958).  They were married in 1910.  There were no children.

3)  Middleton John “Med” Thrasher  b. May 16, 1886 d. March 16 1959.  He married Mary Elizabeth  Poff (1890- ­1955), a sister to Sarah Jane,  on June 16, 1909.  There were 3 children:   Grace Thrasher (1910) infant death;  Everett Middleton Thrasher b. December 28, 1912, d. December 27, 1976,  and Doris Charlotte Thrasher (b. July 3, 1916-d. Nov. 8, 2007).

Mendel Charles Thrasher

Mack Philomen Thrasher

4)  Edward Thrasher,  b. 1888 d. 1968. He married Mildred Edna Warner (1898-­1983)  on March 16, 1916.  They had 7 children:  Douglas Edward Thrasher(1918-­1968);  Mack Philomen Thrasher (1921-­1943); Elizabeth “Betty” Thrasher(1919-­1935); Lois Thasher; Terrence Thrasher;   Mendal Charles Thrasher (1922-2013) Thrasher, Mendel Charles; Robert O’Brien Duncan (Brien) Thrasher (1928-­2012).

Edward’s documents on the Pioneers and Sketch of Early Greenwood are featured on this website.

On the 22 April, 1943, at the age of 22, Mack Thrasher was killed in action off the coast of Kenya, North Africa. He was a stoker on  a naval vessel. His final resting place unknown. His name is listed at Panel 10 on the Halifax Memorial, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. There is a memorial for him on his parent’s tombstone  in the Greenwood Cemetery.

5)  Alex Thrasher married Grace Stewart.  One daughter, Grace Virginia Thrasher (1921­-2008)

6.)  Harvey Thrasher b. 1895, d. 1978.  He married Katherine Quait.  They had one  son, Glenwood Thrasher (1928-­2014).

7)  Joseph “Joe” Thrasher b. 1897 d. 1984.  Married to Cora Bastien.

8)  Elizabeth “Lizzy” Thrasher b. 1900 d. 1968.  Married to Alex Griese.

iii. Abraham Sylvester  Thrasher (1860- ) m. Elizabeth Robinson. He was a Salvation Army Church member and she was the daughter of Samuel and Sarah Robinson, Portage du Fort, Quebec. 1893 Sylvester-Elizabeth Marriage Reg.


A 1852 horrific house fire that took five young lives.

iv. Joseph  Thrasher (1861-1872)  died of fire age 11.

v. Ann  Thrasher  (1863 –  1872) died of fire age 9.

vi.  Nancy Thrasher (1865 -1872) died of fire age 7.

vii.William Thrasher ( 1867 -1872) died of fire age 5.

vii.  Sarah Thrasher ( 1871 – 1872) died of fire age 1.

viii. Thomas Thrasher (1871- ) m. Jane “Jennie” Downey (1874- ) , daughter of Michael and Mary Downy, of Sheen and Aberdeen and Esher and Malakoff, Pontiac County, Quebec. In the 1901 Census the family is living in Bromley Township and Thomas is a Station Agent. The family is Roman Catholic and Jennie’s Mother Mary Downsey, a boarder school teacher, and a lodger make up the household. 1901 Census Thomas Thrasher.

vix.  Frances  Thrasher (1874- 1948)  m. William Mathieson (1868 – 1955) , son of Laughlin Mathieson and Harriett Currie, in 1894 at Westmeath. 1894 Francis & William Marriage Reg.. William had been born in Stafford township, Renfrew County, and was farming in Pembroke Township.

At the time of the 1911 Census, Earl Thrasher 13, Samuel Thrasher 11 and Sarah Thrasher 17 yrs., were listed as living in the Mathieson household in that census.

Frances and William had eight children: Thomas William Matheson (1896 –); Herbert Ernest Matheson (1897 – ); George Philemon Matheson (1899 – ); Edna Matheson (1903 –); Francis Gerald Matheson (1904 –); Harold E Matheson (1905 – ); Helen B Matheson (1906 – 1984); Sarah Ida Mathieson (1909 – ).

3.  Margaret “Peggy” Thrasher (1829-1915).   Margaret listed as a widow, died at her home at Lot 2o, Concession 2, WML, Westmeath Township. On the 1915 death registration completed by Dr. I.D. Cotnam, there is   a William Nelson – informant. Had Peggy married a Nelson? Might William be her son? Unknown.



4.   Abraham Thrasher  (1832-1913)  m. Mary Jane Horricks (1845 -1919) who was the daughter of William Henry Horricks (1789–1880) and Christina Esther Forsyth (1806 – 1891).

Abe Thrasher served as a trustee for S.S. No. 9, Greenwood.

Abe Thrasher served as a school trustee for S.S. No. 9, Greenwood School.

Abraham and Jane’s   children were: Racheal Thrasher (1859- ); Charlotte Thrasher (1861- ); Hannah Thrasher (1863- ) m. William Wilson – see WILSON entry; Christina  Thrasher (1873-1956) m. Samuel Stuart Luckey; Charles Thrasher (1877-1935); Robert Thrasher (1881-  ); Walter Thrasher (1883- ) and Ida M. Thrasher (1885-  ).

Walter Thrasher was also a school trustee for S.S. No. 9, Greenwood School

Walter Thrasher was also a school trustee for S.S. No. 9, Greenwood School

In the 1871 Census this Wesleyan Methodist family is farming in Greenwood, Westmeath Township; Abel Beach the census-taker.


1871 Census for Westmeath Township

In the 1891 Census Abraham and Jane are now in their early 50s.

1891 Census Westmeath Township

1891 Census Westmeath Township


Thrasher-Horricks stone, Greenwood Cemetery.

Thrasher-Horrick stone, Greenwood Cemetery.

Descendants of Philemon Thrasher  & (2) Mary Birdwhistle (sometimes  Boyle)

Mary (Birdwhistle)Boyle Thrasher, second wife of Philemon Sr.

Mary (Birdwhistle) Boyle Thrasher, second wife of Philemon Sr.

(2)    MARY (BIRDWHISTLE) BOYLE (1819-  ),  was born in Ireland. She  married Philemon Thrasher in 1836 and together they had three children:

    1. Hiram Thrasher (1837-1912)
    2. John Thrasher (1840-
    3. Elizabeth Thrasher (1843-1923)

With Files From Numerous Sources:  includes pictures