Powells, Powells everywhere…

James W. POWELL – “An Old Photographer and a Good Citizen His Useful Career”
This morning at 9:15, Mr. James W. Powell passed away, at his residence, Princess Street, after a lingering illness. The deceased was born in the house now occupied by his family, in 1842, consequently he was 54 years of age. He was the eldest son of the late James Powell, tinsmith. He received his early education at the Quaker School, near Picton. Twenty-five years ago he returned to this city, and was apprenticed to Sheldon & Davis, photographers. After serving a year with this firm, he opened a gallery over King’s drug store, after following his business in that place he removed to Napanee, where he remained a year. He returned to Kingston and for a number of years did business in the Anchor Block. Thirteen years ago he removed to his present stand, where he has conducted business ever since. A few years ago he suffered from a stroke of paralysis, and from that time till his death he has not been actively engaged in business.
The deceased leaves a wife, three sons and five daughters to mourn his loss. He was a member of the Methodist Church. He also belonged to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Chosen Friends and the Ancient Order of United Workmen. The deceased had a large circle of friends, both in business and in private life, who will hear of his death with regret. He was popular among the amateur photographers of the city, and during his life gave them many useful hints in the mysteries of photography. The funeral will take place from his residence, Princess Street, on Sunday.
The Kingston Daily News – 16 Jul 1896

I first realized the POWELL family name has a strong history in Canada when I visited the Toronto Reference Library. I was one of the first visitors to the brand new Arthur Conan Doyle Room and the adjoining Baldwin Room. It felt a bit odd to have 3 curators fetching materials for me since I was the only person there. Asking for a few names to research, Powell was the largest hit. The curators brought box after box of Powell-related materials. The Powell’s in Toronto were a famous bunch.
The first manuscript I read was an amazing 19th-century typed letter from a lady of the Powell family, detailing the family history of her line and a few others. Famous Americans and Canadians were mentioned throughout the pages.
So 373 years ago, 21 years after the Mayflower set sail, one Thomas Powell was born to Thomas Powell and Priscilla Powell (nee Whitson). So the mystery of the common name of James is solved. As Puritans, they named their children after themselves. This was not always the case, with some really bizarre names coming out of that religion. I never found a Wrestling Powell or Fight-The-Good-Fight-Of-Faith Powell, but then again I didn’t go back too far.

A book on his descendants exists, though it hasn’t been updated in a hundred years or so…
Long Island genealogies. Families of Albertson, Andrews, Bedell, Birdsall … Willets, Williams, Willis, Wright, and other families. Being kindred descendants of Thomas Powell, of Bethpage, L.I., 1688.
It’s available at the Toronto Reference Library, or online at Archive.Org
So Thomas Powell founded Bethpahge, Long Island, turned Quaker, and sold parcels of land to other Quaker settlers. He seemed to make out pretty well, considering he purchased 10,000 acres in central Long Island for £140 and some fur pelts, or maybe some sheep, from the local Indian tribes. They were allowed to pick berries and hunt on the land, so there was that….
I have no clue if Thomas Powell is related to the James Powell lineage, however I have a good hunch that James Powell Shannon was.
James Powell Shannon was born September 10, 1832 at Belleview, Hastings. He died March 5, 1910, buried in Oneota Cemetery in Duluth. He was one of 24 children born to John Abel Shannon & Samantha Smith.
Is there a chance that he is related to James Powell the photographer, who was the father of my great-uncle?
Most likely. According to the 1886 Daily Whig, he ran Shanahan’s restaurant in Kingston. Shanahans — E. & A. Chown’s first business stand. They served their apprenticeship with James Powell, father of the photographer of the same name.
If you’re researching 19th-century Kingston, check out the link to the Whig above. It has a list of many of the stores along the main strip and a brief story about their owners.
So who was the photographer, James W. Powell? We’d need to jump forward a few more years.
On July 1, 1867, guns fired and bells tolled as Canadians took a bit of power from the British and united their colonies. Sir John A Macdonald was sworn in as the first Prime Minister of Canada. He died in 1891 at the age of 76, with R.W. Powell calling it at 10:15pm.
No word yet if RW and JW were related…. What was JW doing in 1867?
In 1867, James W Powell lived in Kingston at 18 Colborne St. James W POWELL was the father of James Haffel POWELL, who married my great aunt.
In 1871 he moved to Napanee, and worked at Sheldon & Davis as a photographer.  Some photos from the National Gallery.
In 1876 he was at Wellington St.
In 1881 he was at 34 Brock St.
In 1883 he was at King and Market Square
In 1889 he was at 165 Princess St.
James Powell and family owned 165-167 Princess St. from 1840 to the 1880’s. When fire raged up Princess in 1876, this building was saved from destruction by blowing up a small brick house to the west.
The Stories of Store Street.
Neighbours of James, perhaps a bit into the future, included Dan Aykroyd’s great-grandfather Samuel Augustus, the dentist in Kingston.
The King of Kingston

Six generations of Aykroyds have lived in the Kingston area. The family’s penchant for the paranormal started with Dan’s great-grandfather, Samuel Augustus Aykroyd, Kingston’s fifth dentist, who had an office on the town’s main drag at 92 Princess Street (now a TD bank across the street from a Starbucks). As a child, Peter spied on his mystic grandfather’s regular seances at the family’s farmhouse, a childhood fascination that would eventually greatly influence his own son.

In the attic of 165 Princess St, photos and documents from Powell’s photography studio were found years later. These Fonds are in the Queens archives which I hope to see someday soon. Their web site has a few Powell photos.
James W. POWELL, was a photographer for over 30 years in the Kingston and Napanee Area, from 1870 to his death at 9:15am on July 16, 1896. If you have any links to Powell photos, please post them in the comments below.
In 1901, his son, James Haffel Powell, was 28 when he married married my Great Aunt Mary Ida Sears. At 24, she was a nurse. Her parents were Samuel SEARS and Hannah BUCK. His brother Charles W. POWELL of Kingston was his best man, with her sister, my Great Aunt Alberta J. SEARS being the maid of honour. Jess Miklos was kind enough to pull that together for me.
They lived on Perth Road near Kingston. Not to be confused with Frank Baden-Powell Park, in West Perth Australia.
When the elder POWELL passed away, his son and mother tried to keep the photography business going. Jennie (Jane) SALLANS POWELL and her sons managed until 1906, when the business was closed. Later, James Haffel Powell joined my Great-Great Grandfather Ralph Warren Sears as a guard in Kingston Penitentiary.
Although James Haffel Powell is only related to me through marriage, his tree was one of the more interesting ones to climb. Haven’t found the link to Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, but I’m sure it’s there someplace. I will revisit my great uncle’s history in a future posting, along with a history of Cobalt, Ontario.
Next posting will be on the AYKROYD family, my ancestor’s neighbours in Loughborough, Ontario, and a possible tie-in with the SEARS family tree.

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