I am constructing a family history. It began with a few notes and documents from my grandfather Dennis E. Donahue, a man who I unfortunately never met. His painstaking letter writing to distant family members (there was no internet research at the time) and keen interest, as well as the curiosity that was expressed by my other grandfather T.I. Boomer (who didn’t have a clue how to approach the task) has apparently sparked some of the fruitful research I have made myself.
This website includes four major family groups: the Donahues, the Dixons, the Boomers, and the Leavoy family. I am also interested in all of their respective offshoots, including: the Rasmussens, Sullivans, the Churches, Spragues and Warrens, the Kennedys and McDonnells and the Harrowers. To expand understanding of the tree, I am also writing short narratives about individual offshoots in my blog. If you connect with me and share your research, you might find your own family story there. Below are profiles of my four grandparents, where the research all begins. To be taken to their larger family trees, click on their portraits.
Where it all began
Dennis Edward Donahue was the eldest in a family of five children. His father, Edward Donahue, came up to Saskatchewan (Can.) in 1919 on a train from Minnesota where his family had farmed since his grandfather had moved there from Wisconsin. Dennis’ father worked as a laborer and was not often around, so his mother Clara Rasmussen brought up the five Donahue children in the towns of Carmichael and Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
Dennis worked hard through elementary and high school with a strong focus on the trades, eventually leaving his Times Herald paper route and joining the Canadian rifles and military. He served as a private in the United Kingdom and continental Europe before being discharged “to return to civil life on demobilization”. Two months after leaving the corps. he married Norma Dixon in Moose Jaw and the couple moved to Windsor, Ontario where Dennis worked in tool and die for the automotive industry. The couple had four children in Windsor.
Norma Merle Dixon was also from a family of five children and grew up on the family farm in Rocanville, Saskatchewan where her father Alvin Moody had homesteaded after coming out from Southern Ontario. Norma, a typical farm girl, did poorly in school (although she tried hard to improve her grades) where her teacher was her aunt and the building was a one-room school house built by an uncle. It was likely difficult to escape the family influence as her mother, Lula Millin’s family are considered pioneers of Rocanville and had settled there in great numbers. Despite her education, Norma must have had high ambitions for a more modern life: she moved out on her own to Ontario and worked for the Llyod bag company in Chatham before leaving of her own accord to marry Dennis Donahue. She had four children with her husband in Windsor, Ontario.
Ted Ion Boomer, belonged to a large family of 7 children who grew up in Brantford, Ontario on a dairy farm. His father’s family are early settlers of the Long Point area where they farmed for several generations. His mother’s family, the Depew family, also settled the area and had been there since their arrival from the United States as Methodist pacifists. Ted’s family experienced many hardships and he left home at a young age, hopping the rails out West to work as a farmhand on a ranch. He eventually served in the Canadian military abroad as a Sargent before coming back to Canada and marrying Helen Florine Leavoy and settling in Windsor Ontario with their four children. Ted Ion’s life was wrought with severe mental illness and his family experienced the many ups and downs that this typically brings.
Helen Florine Leavoy, youngest daughter in a family of six children, moved between Kingston and Windsor (Ontario) and Detroit (Michigan) with her family as a child. Her father Gordon Leavoy worked as an automotive salesman for the Ford company early on in its history. His family came from the Renfrew and Arnprior area of Ontario where they originally logged and mined the land. Helen’s mother’s family the Kennedys, also came from a mining and farming background and lived between Sudbury and the Ottawa valley. Helen and her husband T.I. Boomer married in 1943 and had four children during their rocky marriage. They divorced when their children were teenagers but continued to maintain a relationship.