Uncovering Cornwall's History, One Story At A Time..

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Sarah Mina Empey

Click the links below to read the article.


'Taking a look back at 'My Mina' [Article in the Seaway News - April 11th 2013.]


Sarah Mina Empey & The Grant Family [Standard Freeholder - June 5th 2013.]




When researching House of Refuge inmates, I look through the registry I've created and methodically delve into the records of each name. I work through the list alphabetically by surname. When I reached the letter 'E', I discovered a mysterious woman whose last name is 'Empey'. Her first name was not recorded. (This is not uncommon.) One factor peculiar to her case, was her age. She was 29-years-old. Most residents at the House of Refuge tended to be elderly, without family, and no means of support. The House of Refuge register also indicated that Ms. Empey was admitted with a three-year-old child. (I have made many assumptions about this child. The biggest premise being the child is hers. For all I know, this child could have been another sort of relative.) I do not know the name of the child, but I know the child was male. Searching genealogy records, quickly showed the only Empey girl, aged 29 in 1915, was Sarah "Mina" Empey. What makes Mina's case pivotal to my House of Refuge research, is that she gave birth in the facility. Up until finding Mina, the House of Refuge loomed in my mind as a graveyard, a place to await death. I never considered it to be a place where life began.

Mina's Story

Sarah "Mina" Empey was born on May 6th 1886 to parents Charles Ira Empey and Elizabeth Carter. Twenty nine years later, on March 10th 1915, she was received at Cornwall's House of Refuge. Three months after she was admitted, Mina gave birth to a child in the facility on June 12th 1915. The name of this infant remains unknown to me, but the House of Refuge records indicate that he son died sixteen days later (June 28th 1915). Given Mina's situation, and the time frame of her story, it is safe to say Mina's child was most likely buried on the House of Refuge property.


Mina died, apparently unmarried on May 28th 1942. She was fifty six years old. She was buried at Woodlands East Cemetery in Osnabruck Township, County of Stormont. Woodlands East Cemetery was flooded during the Seaway. 


Mina Empey is buried with Allan Grant (January 25th 1852 - September 8th 1943) and his wife Amanda Ann Adams (July 5th 1858 - April 24th 1932). I do not know why Mina was not buried with her family. This is another mystery, along with the relationship of Amanda and Allan Grant to Mina. The Grant tombstone which also has the name of Mina Empey was moved during the time of the Seaway to St. Lawrence Valley Cemetery. Mina's remains were flooded by the newly created Lake St. Lawrence.

May 20th 2013:

After all of the confusion, research and assumptions - some questions have been answered, blanks were filled in and there is finally a face to the name.. After months of research, I finally got to see my beautiful Mina. Her niece was kind enough to give me 3 pictures of her, and pictures of her family to have. I am an emotional mess - I am so happy to finally see her.

Mina's Obituary

"Miss Mina Empey Died At Wales Thursday Night"


(Staff Correspondence)


WALES, May 29th - Death came with startling suddenness to Miss Mina Empey, well known and esteemed resident of the village, at 11 o'clock last night, when she passed away at the home of Allan Grant as the result of a heart attack suffered after the supper hour. The announcement of her death came as a severe shock to the community, particularly those who had conversed with her during the day.


Miss Empey had worked in the garden during the morning and visited friends in the afternoon, returning home in the early evening. Shortly afterwards she suffered a heart attack. Dr. G. E. Moodie was summonded and did everything possible, but Miss Empey failed to respond to treatment and passed peacefully away about 11 o'clock.


Born at Dickinson's Landing 56 years ago, she was the daughter of the late Charles Empey. She had made her home with Allan Grant here since she was a young girl. She was keenly interested in chuch and Woman's Institute work and was indentified with every movement for the advancement of the community and her death will leave a vacancy that will indeed be hard to fill.


Left to mourn her loss are her mother, Mrs. Charles Empey, and her brother, Charles Empey, both at Dickinson's Landing; another brother, Cedric Empey, resides at Brockville, and a sister, Mrs. Daye, at Massena, N.Y.


The funeral will be held Sunday afternoon from the home of Allan Grant, to St. Mark's Church for service, conducted by Reverend C. H. Dawes, pastor.

Mina's Family

Mina's Parents


Mina's father Charles Ira Empey was born on May 24th 1861 to William Empey and Mary Cline. He was born in Dickinson's Landing. He died on October 6th 1912.


Mina's mother Elizabeth 'Eliza' Carter, was born on January 15th 1862. She died on October 4th 1945.


Mina's Siblings


Mina was the eldest of their seven children. Her siblings are:


William Thomas Empey (November 30th 1884 - July 23rd 1885).


Sidney William Empey (November 20th 1887 - April 15th 1960).


Sidney married Bertha Laroque on October 7th 1908.


They had three children:

1 - Arthur Alexander Empey (August 15th 1909 - May 29th 1975).

2 - Charles Edward Empey (July 7th 1911 - June 2nd 1976).

3 - Verna Sophia Empey (March 10th 1922 - ___?___). 


Mary Catherine Empey (October 31st 1889 - November 2nd 1907).


Mary Catherine Empey died at 18 years old on November 2nd 1907. She was married to Merton L. Wickwire. She is buried at St. Lawrence Valley Cemetery.


They had one child:
Ruth Elizabeth Wickwire (August 25th 1907 - January 12th 1989).


David Charles Empey (October 15th 1892 - February 6th 1929).


William Edward Empey (September 17th 1895 - September 28th 1918). Private Edward William Empey was a member of the PPCLI Eastern Ontario Regiment during WWI. On September 28th 1918, Private Empey was killed and his body like so many others, was never recovered. His name is etched on the Vimy Memorial.


Regiment Number: 639771

Birthdate: September 17th 1895.

Enlisted on March 1st 1916.

Died at 23 years old.


Charles Ira Empey (March 5th 1898 - August 7th 1974).


Charles married Mary Ellen Ogle.


** If anyone knows any information on this family, or if you are related to anyone mentioned above, please contact me.

I would love to fill in blanks. **