ANNIS ANNALS 1638-1931

Image: Annis Annals Cover

Editor's Notes: Annis Annals 1638-1931 was published in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada in 1931, and was written by Allin Foster Annis {1899-1951} and edited by Levi Edward Annis {1858-1933}.
It is with a great deal of respect and admiration that I present his valuable and quaint booklet available to researchers of the Annis and collateral families. Primarily published for members of the family, and a project of the Annis Association of Oshawa, "Annis Annals" has found a rather large audience in Annis Family researchers.
Copies of the original booklet can be found from Maine to California in the United States, and from New Brunswick to British Columbia in Canada. I have tried to follow the format of the original book at this site as closely as possible so that page numbers, etc. can be referenced in the future. It will be noticed that there are page breaks in the middle of a sentence and this is to allow for compliance with the original format.

On a personal note, I am deeply indebted to two of our Canadian cousins for their valuable contributions in collaboration on this project.
Wendy Veronica Annis of Oshawa, Ontario for her dedication in research, and her friendship. She is a perfect representative of a proud, noble, and unselfish family.
Bruce Gregg Annis of Mississauga, Ontario for his recent and generous contribution of an original, unused copy of the booklet.

Michael James Annis - 2015

"Salt of the Earth"

Ontario takes on new traditions of her own as the years pass. This Province until recently so young that the generation of the day remembered the first settlers, now speaks of the founders as folk of a bygone day, whose remains lie perhaps in an abandoned cemetery, but whose deeds take on a new glow as seen through the years.
Such thoughts well upward on perusal of "Annis Annals," a little book of family records, the preparation of which by Mr. L.E. Annis has obviously been a labor of love. The Annis family's roots are traced back to the British Isles, but more particularly to the coming of Charles Annis to Massachusetts in l662, and the advent of a later Charles Annis and a Roger Conant as settlers in Canada in l793. The Loyalists of that day located on the site of Oshawa, and today many members of the two families reside between Toronto and Oshawa, particularly in Scarboro' township.
The Annis family belong to the "salt of the earth" type of settler. They began in Canada as farmer, but later generations have included many professional men, Ministers, lawyers, doctors, and others, but almost never merchants. "In all" says the chronicler, "the Annis family in Canada have been consistent, hard working, painstaking, but retiring. They have constituted a solid citizenry of this country and, if denied brilliance, so also have they been saved humiliation."
Adapting Leigh Hunt's hope for Abou Ben-adhem, "May their tribe increase"

(The Globe, Toronto)

Image: AnnisCrest


The above design shows the helmet, with the diamond shaped thing of gold, which is the Crest, on top; the shield, with the cross bar, and star, and the red cloak, with silver lining.
The fact that it is in existence shows that the Annis family was at one time entitled to bear Arms, that is to say, these Coats of Arms were granted by a college of heralds, to independent country squires, or nobility of greater or less degree.
The ordinary yeomanry, if he went to war, went under the colors of some Lord. The existence of such a coat-of-arms indicates that at some time a grant "to bear arms" was made to a member of the Annis family, which classed him as a member of the squire class, or better, that he was a free man. It is a very old grant.
It is with satisfaction we receive the design and historic information from A. F. Annis, and would respectfully suggest to the Annis connection that the design be recognized as the family crest.



The observation may be regarded as trite, but nevertheless it is true to the fact, that our fair Province of Ontario was singularly fortunate in the stamp of men and women who constituted her early settlers. They came not to seek easy berths or sinecure offices, nor had they any prospect or even thought of quickly acquiring wealth. They came with the full knowledge that to establish themselves and bring up their families could mean for them only unremitting toil, severe hardships, and isolation from their fellows; but inspired by visions of independence, of sure if slow reward for their labors, they came prepared to face every privation and surmount all obstacles. They brought with them respect for law and order. They set a high value on education and on the privileges of public worship. All over the land churches and schools, and in due time the higher seats of learning, were established.

Before the sturdy strokes of the axes of our pioneers fell the giants of the forest; roads were opened, bridges were flung across creeks and rivers, swamps were drained, until the scattered “clearings” in the original “bush” developed into smiling farms, with well stored barns -- the scattering of grain by hand giving place to the seed-drill, the sickle and scythe to the mowing-machine, the cradle to the self-binding reaper, the ox to the horse, the rude wagon of the early days to the gaily painted truck of today, and the top buggy to the ubiquitous and luxurious automobile.

The great epic of the pioneer life of Ontario has yet to be written. Whether it come in form of poetry or prose, who could overlook the part played in the peaceful drama by those trusty yoke-fellows “Buck” and “Bright”, the sturdy, patient oxen, without the use of which the work of the settlers would have been slow and laborious indeed.

What has been said of the character of the original settlers of the Province as men of rugged strength, of courage and optimism and sterling character, is amply supported by these Annals of the Annis Family. The compilation of the material in this volume was a task, which could have been undertaken and carried through only by one to whom the work was a labor of love. One is amazed at the completeness of the genealogy here assembled. While intended mainly for the members of the numerous tribe who trace their ancestry back to the worthy couple Charles and Elizabeth Annis, yet there is much to interest the reader outside the fold. The biographical sketches tell of individual accomplishments of members of the clan, many of whom rose to positions of eminence and marked usefulness in this country.


In perusing the Annals and noting the frequency of Scriptural names bestowed on the young of succeeding generations (indeed one might almost mistake the record for a supplement to the book of Numbers!) one can hardly escape the reflection that in the formation of character one’s name must have a tangible influence despite Shakespeare's cynical query, What's in a name?”

This really remarkable family is happy in their chronicler. He has brought to his task a full appreciation of those elements in human character which make for true manhood, and which have been so conspicuous in his forbears. Nor must he refuse the privilege here taken of pointing out that the possession of these same qualities have brought him well merited honors, social, political, and within the Church of his choice. His recent election to the office of President of the York Pioneer and Historical Society was a happy recognition of his service to the Society and of his personal worth.

The writer indulges the hope that this little volume will find its way to the shelves of many public as well as private libraries. Welcome is any contribution to the early history of our splendid Province. ~ Toronto, April 15th, 1931 - Edward S. Caswell



This booklet is dedicated to all the connection at home or abroad who may find interest in reading it, we extend greeting and best wishes that you may enjoy it, and that your spirit of love may enable you to overlook many of its shortcomings. While we have endeavored to produce a record of the clan with a degree of accuracy, we wish it to be understood that most of the material obtained was through the sympathetic and loving cooperation of volunteer friends; and we thank all for the information thus given, and we believe it to accurate. We wish to say further that with but one exception, no official County records have been searched for information herein contained, largely because of the lack of opportunity. But, aided by old family Bibles, and the reminiscences of active survivors, have brought together a large amount of valuable information which we take pleasure in having recorded for the present generation's benefit as well as for prosperity.

That the one exception above referred to was the work done by Allin Annis, Ex-Prest. and founder of the Annis Association, who has given us Early Records, dating from 1639 A.D.

We trust the spirit of this book may help to bind our people in closer fellowship one with another, and the family with family. There is much in this great family connection of which we may be proud. It is with thankful hearts that we acknowledge the loving kindness of Jehovah, in his dealings with our forefathers. And we beg of all to strive to uphold the lofty aspirations and spiritual traditions of our ancestors, that the name may be mighty in the land given us. Please receive this record as a standing and urgent invitation to each and everyone to join in the annual gathering of the connection at Oshawa each summer.


Image: Annis Family of Oshawa



Mr. Allin F. Annis, Founder and first President of the Annis Association, writes as follows:- “To be earnest in that which it is his duty to perform. To be honest with all men. To be sincere in all things. These are set forward as the marks of a good citizen and judged by these standards the Annis’ are entitled to a mark of merit. Their public and private lives bear out the maxim. They have been earnest in the conduct of their own affairs, so that no member of the family is now or is known to have been seriously in want, if perhaps not so earnest and too honest to have achieved great wealth. They have been earnest in the public weal to a degree, and sincere in their efforts to assist the cause of religion, clean government and public morals, and to have consistently shown a capacity which, had it been applied to more purpose, would undoubtedly have enabled many members of the family to have achieved more notoriety.

HISTORY. The history of any family in America cannot be a long one, yet the Annis' can claim to have been on this continent for nearly four hundred years. The origin of the name is mysterious. The first bearer seems to have come from the east coast of England or Scotland, and was probably a Norseman, a suggestion which is borne out by the succession of capes and promontories on that rocky coast named or ending in the syllable “Ness”. The first Annis was “AnNess”, which by a free translation of Scandinavian indicates him to have been marked by a characteristic still common in the family, namely, “big nose”. The first member of the family to have been noted seems to have been a member of that band of soldiers which under Strongbow, in the reign of James the First, drove the O’Neill from the north of Ireland. And in the settlement so made, Curmac, or Charles Annis was born about the year 1638 in the Town of Enniskillin. But the times were troubled. Cromwell overran Ireland in the cause of Protestantism, and with the downfall of the Commonwealth and the license, which arose, with the reign of the second Charles, Curmac, whether for reasons of safety or orthodoxy, found himself aboard ship bound for New England.

Arriving at Newberryport about the year 1662, and marrying Sarah Case {Chase} in that town four years later, he begat a numerous family. The name Annisquam, attached to a great bay in the vicinity, indicates that the name is not unknown to geographers, and for generations the family appears to have been prosperous and to have settled in North Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.


During this time other immigrants from England had been achieving fame in other quarters. About the year 1627 Roger Conant, a scion of English squires, came to and was appointed first Governor of Salem, Massachusetts, and his family also has achieved distinction in the development of New England. These families endured the Indian Wars, and in the dispute between the Colonies of New England and Pennsylvania, which received some quietus in the massacre of Susquehannah. They seem to have acquired some property, having considerable holdings in the heart of Boston City at the time of the Revolutionary war, at which time Charles Annis, a descendant of the former Curmac, appears as a soldier in the Revolutionary Army.

Whether the sweets of victory were less than was expected, or whether it had been their intention to fight, not against the British connection, but against British misrule, does not appear; but in the year 1781 we do hear of Roger Conant and Charles Annis spying out the land on the north shore of Lake Ontario, to which point their families, already as it appears related by marriage, removed about the year 1793, settling first at or near the mouth of the creek, which now forms the port of the City of Oshawa.

Charles Annis appears to have had five sons, perhaps more. At any rate the names Roger, Levi, Ezra and William appear in the family records. David seems to have been childless. Roger and Ezra later sold their holdings and removed to the state of Michigan; and from William, are to be traced the descent of most, if not all, the members of the Annis family in the Dominion of Canada. Their descendants are to be found in almost all parts of the Dominion. For three generations they have for the most part followed agricultural pursuits. The fourth and fifth generations number among their member's professional men, ministers, lawyers, doctors and others, but almost never merchants. They have been uniformly religiously inclined. They have founded churches and have kept churches already founded functioning. They have been temperate, almost without exception. They have taken an active part in community affairs as councillors, reeves, and sometimes as aspirants for parliamentary honours. In this later capacity the members of the family seem to have suffered two handicaps. They have been hesitant about praising their own qualities, perhaps to a fault; and those who have aspired have had the misfortune, along with the majority of the members of the family, to have been Liberal in politics in communities that were predominantly Conservative. In all, the Annis family in Canada has been consistent, hard working, painstaking, but retiring. They have constituted a solid citizenry of this country, and if denied brilliance, so also have been saved humiliation.”


The earlier history of the Annis family seems so dim and indistinct, so shrouded in the mantle of tradition and hardships, to the present generation. Yet their sacrifice as pioneers from Europe seeking a wider area, and a country where their succeeding generations might dwell in security and obtain in larger measure the real necessities of life, and an inheritance they hoped for, like Abraham of Old, that their seed might dwell in the land of promise and ultimately possess it so that they might worship God in spirit and in truth, none daring to molest or, make them afraid. Generation after generation evidently caught the spirit of their forefathers, for there has been handed down from father to son a strong tradition of the worship of the true God, and a stern requirement to parental obedience that success might follow. Evidence that the hand of God was leading them was seen in the old Pilgrim Father or Puritan custom of giving to the different members of the family scriptural names, such as Levi and Rhoda, Mathew and Abigail, David and Annie, Jeremiah and Elizabeth, John and Sarah, Mary and Thomas, Ezra and Martha, Andrew and James, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Thus are we reminded, although the ancestral Hebrews wandered for many years in the wilderness, that refining, stern experience was an education for body, mind and soul that fitted them as citizens, servants and messengers to possess the land.

It was stimulating to all in the earliest days at gatherings of the families to listen to the oft repeated stories of past generations and their sufferings, trials, inconveniences and poverty, for it was not considered a discredit to be poor, and the recounting of trials only added zest and vim to the spirit of the succeeding members of the tribe. The blood of patriots and Loyalists runs through the veins and hearts of all the connection. There has always been a quick readiness to respond to the call for help, whether by the individual or by the state. When the country calls it has not always been a blind or stupid obedience, but a righteous demand that justice and freedom be extended, not to the favored alone, but also to the struggling pioneer and the poor. This was evident almost one hundred years ago, when in 1837, the Annis men were found on the side of the people as against the Family Compact which sought to impose its selfish and greedy political advantage on the common people. Those wrongs were righted, and today all Canada rejoices that it was thus settled, and that no enmity remains.

A tradition has come to us through our Father that great grandfather Charles Annis was halted at Niagara River as he essayed to cross from the new Republic of the United States into Canada with his yoke of oxen, his wife and children, and a mare


and colt, in 1793, and demanded to say if he was one of those who fought against the British in 1776. The straight reply came direct to General Simcoe’s officers:- “I will always fight for my home, and where my property is”. It was later reported that Simcoe said, That's the type of citizen we want.” And yet evidently some members of the family were United Empire Loyalists.

It was about at this time an effort was made to settle Yonge Street with good Colonist. The above mentioned Charles, after a two weeks’ halt, and inspection, decided to proceed East, as he said, the hunting and fishing was no good, and he could not be prevailed on to change his 2-year old heifer for the lot, 100 acres, on which Eaton's store now stands.

By pressing on through the heavily timbered district just east of Toronto with not even a trail to follow as a guide, they camped in the midst of one of the finest forests of white pine and beech and maple, where they remained for a year or two, this on what we know today as Scarboro Heights, the two eldest boys were left here to chop and burn, the simple method of cleaning the timber for crop, and to keep possession as a "squatter's right", for the country was not surveyed. The writer has today one acre, as we call it, one of "Gods Acres", which we reverently cultivate and try to beautify as a token of our remembrance and appreciation of our ancestral sacrifices and heritage.

A very striking feature of the occupation of the Annis’ is the general tendency to get close to nature by farming and through farming to get close to Nature's God. While College education was not the privilege of many members of the family in the earlier periods, yet a thorough education and training, not in classics or mathematics, but in domestic, fireside and personal culture, imposed on all members. The Scriptures was the foundation literature, industry, thrift and honesty especially emphasized. Character building was under the personal supervision of the parents, and when a wife was desired to fill up the domestic joy, the young man had no recourse but to visit the distant home and for days remain, helping at some work, and in the large one roomed house, with a great wood fireplace, was able to observe the life of the object of his love, her fidelity, industry and disposition, and her education in many lines, including baking, spinning, weaving or sewing and her ability to handle oxen, horses, and use the axe were all counted to her credit.

One member of the family, Levi, was a little better equipped than usual, took his mount, a horse, and before daybreak was attacked by wolves; he slung himself from his mount into a branching tree, and with flint and steel stood off the pack till daylight. The sun was a great defender. Another member, Jerry, had not so far to go and in the darkness wended his way homeward along a familiar trail, crossed by a large fallen tree, along which he carefully


felt his way, and then jumped fully five feet to the accustomed path, the spot had become the rendezvous of a settler's large drove of hogs and his unexpected intrusion created a panic, and hastened his arrival at his father's cabin.


From Top: Arthur Annis, Toronto and Cornell Universities
Andrew Annis J.P., Oshawa, 1890
Levi E. Annis, J.P., Editor


Chapter II

Allin Annis of Messrs Conant & Annis of Oshawa, after careful investigation, writes as follows:-- “A Sketch of Part of the Annis Family Tree.” The data here given is, I believe, fairly accurate, except at the spot where the Canadian branch is joined on to the American. There the evidence is purely circumstantial.

“Curmac”, or Charles Annis, was born in Enniskillen, Ireland in 1638, a son of one of Charles the First soldiers who had settled there about 1616, a planter. He migrated and settled at Newberryport, near Annisquam Harbour, Mass. about 1662. He married Sarah Case {Chase}in 1666, daughter of Aquila Case {Chase}, of Chesham, Berks., Eng., and died in 1717. They had a family of eight -- Joseph, Abraham (who seems to be the ancestor of the present generation), Aquila, Isaac, Sarah (Bagley), Priscilla (Godfrey), Hannah (Weed), and Anna (Woothern).

Abraham was born in 1668 and died in 1736. He was a weaver of Haverhill, Mass. Evidently Abraham had ten children, namely, Charles, Elizabeth, Hannah (Rawkins), John, who seems in direct line, Stephen, Sarah, Abraham, Daniel, Labilla (Westman), and Anne.

John was born in 1700 and died in 1770. He married Abigail Rolph, a cordwainer of Haverhill. John evidently repeated his father Abraham's record by having ten children, namely, Ezra, Sarah (died), Sarah (Mitchell), Rolph, John, Charles, evidently in direct line, Jacob, James, Jesse, and Abigail.

Charles was born in 1739, raised in Haverhill, and left the district. There is no positive evidence that this is the Canadian Charles, but this one seems to have gone to New Hampshire, and thence to the Susquehanna Valley, and our people seem to have had somewhat the itinerary urges. Also his age would about correspond, and he is one of the few who got lost and are not accounted for in the old records of Essex County, Mass. Also he is the only Charles of this generation mentioned in the Essex County records.

Turning to the Canadian records of the Conant genealogy we find: Rhoda Conant, seventh generation from Roger, seventh child of Roger and Rhoda Ranall Conant, born 1784, near Saratoga, N.Y., moved to Canada with parents about 1798.


Married Levi Annis, a son of Charles and Elizabeth Annis. Charles was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, from Windham, New Hampshire. He at one time lived in Methuen, Mass. He removed to Canada.

The Registry Office records at Whitby show land registrations in the names of Charles Annis (the elder) and others, apparently sons, namely:- Charles, David, Roger, Ezra and William.
David seems to have acquired much land, which ultimately came into the possession of Daniel Conant.
Roger and Ezra sold out and apparently went back to the States, probably to the West.
William evidently became the direct ancestor of what we call the Oshawa Branch. Levi, a son of Charles, as above related, married Rhoda Conant.


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