Columnist responds to query about a Lacombe pioneer

I was delighted to see Mr. Mobley’s letter to the editor in the Lacombe Express in May.

I was delighted to see Mr. Mobley’s letter to the editor in the Lacombe Express in May. I’m sure it was gratifying to the editor to know how widely his paper was being read.

As for myself, it is always a pleasure to hear from or about individuals who actively pursue an interest in their own family history.

All too frequently our minds are so filled with the challenges of daily life, of families and careers that we take little, if any, time to reflect on the past and our own family history. Like the fragment of poetry said, “I climbed the ladder of success then let myself look back, And lo I saw the joys I passed unnoticed on the track.”

Prominent among those joys are memories of our childhood and fragments of memories our parents and relatives shared with us of the days of their youth.

Mr. Mobley’s letter verified all the essential details of my article about his grandfather and I thank him for that and for fleshing out the considerable detail that I omitted in my short article. I also thank him for pointing out the one error in my story, an error of omission for my notes actually read “acting mayor”. G.G. Mobley never was mayor of Lacombe. He was merely one member of the council that approved his assignment to repair the Blindman River dam in 1909.

Incidentally, it was a communication from Doug Mobley received by the Lacombe Historical Society on April 2009 that initiated my quest for information about Lacombe pioneer G.G. Mobley. Doug’s letter included the following statement, “I don’t know whether you have the Alberta Historical Review magazines, but there is an article in the summer of 1971 titled ‘Far West and Far North’ which is basically a bio of William Bredin, but in 1896, my grandfather joined up with Bredin at Lac La Biche for a journey way up north. Bredin went as far as the Mackenzie River and spent the winter at Fort Wrigley, but as far as I can tell, my grandfather went as far as Hay River.”

I trust Doug followed up on this story for in that era the only non-natives travelling the Mackenzie River were those associated with the fur trade and others who explored this river as a possible access to the Yukon gold fields. I’m also certain Mr. Mobley could add a great deal to our knowledge about G.G. Mobley’s son, Frank. Percy Puffer in his book Giant Among Pioneers (his father W. Puffer) credited Frank as an organizing member of the Masonic Lodge (Eureka) of Lacombe on Jan. 12, 1898. He was also recorded as co-owner with D.G. Stewart of Lacombe’s Albany Hotel. This was being operated as a licensed hotel by Mobley and Bradshaw in 1895. They sold to Inskip in 1897, who renamed it the Metropolitan, then Frank resigned his position as Senior Warden of the Masonic Lodge and moved with D.G. Stewart to Atlin, B.C.

In the summer of 2010 Cathy Coll of Calgary visited our Michener House archives in search of information about her great grandfather, Rev. Fernie. He had come to Lacombe on June 11, 1893 answering a call to serve as the first ordained minister of Lacombe‘s St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. At that time he was in Ontario, having come there from London, England in the 1880s with his wife and family of one son (George) and four daughters. Our records did not mention whether his family accompanied him to Lacombe although it was evident that at least two of them came then or later for his daughter Annie married G.G. Mobley on Jan. 12, 1898 and a homestead patent for NW 24-40-28, was granted to George Fernie, Annie’s brother, on April 4 1907. This quarter was adjacent to G.G. Mobley’s homestead. Thanks to Coll we were able to update this record in 2011. Mrs. Fernie had indeed come to Lacombe. She died here and is buried in Lacombe’s Fairview cemetery.

I hope Mr. Mobley as one of the pioneers of Lacombe County will share some his memories through the pages of the Express or through communications with the Lacombe Historical Society. Each year that passes leaves the community with fewer people who possess memories of the pioneer days.

Howard Fredeen

Lacombe