Historical Plaque Properties

 

Agnes and Anastasia Writt - Realtor/ Bookkeeper
196 Huron Street
1922 and 1906

 

200 Huron Street
Built 1906

(On Left)

196 Huron Street
Built 1922
(On Right)


 

 

 

In 1871 Joseph, born in Ireland, and Catherine Writt, were living on the fourth concession of Ellice Township (now part of Perth East). They owned 50 acres, had cleared 30, built a house and barn and welcomed their first daughter, Agnes Mary to share their world. Two more daughters and two sons would complete their family. Catherine who was the daughter of Patrick Crowley and Mary Quinlan had grown up in the Kinkora area not far away.

Ten years later things had changed dramatically. Joseph had died leaving Catherine a young, widowed mother of three children the youngest of which, her son, Thomas, was two years old. Her other son, Michael, had died in 1876 at two years of age. Her Irish born mother, Mary, also now a widow was living with her on the farm in Ellice Township along with two young men, Crowley cousins, doing the farm work.

 

The 1890s brought more sadness with the death of her daughter Catherine at age 14 of Typhoid Fever. The 2 older daughters, Agnes and Anastasia, had left home to pursue their future. Agnes had completed her education at the Stratford Collegiate Institute and Business College and was working as a domesticin the rectory of St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church on Huron Street in Stratford.  Anastasia had been hired to help in the home of a local family (the Browns) in Ellice. By the turn of the century Catherine had moved to Stratford with her son Thomas and the family was together again living at 195 Huron St. Agnes was employed as a bookkeeper for Walsh Brothers, grocers and liquour merchants, on Ontario Street. Anastasia had also come to town and found a position as a bookkeeper for J. D. McCrimmon, a local business selling trunks, valises and boots. Later she worked in the composing room at the Beacon. Thomas was gaining experience in carpentry; the trade at which he had would make his living.

 

In 1906 Agnes spent $450.00 to purchase Lot # 82 on the north side of Huron Street almost directly across from where they were living. She proceeded to have the property divided and a house, which became 200 Huron Street, was built on the west half. The Writt family moved in and the property remained in their hands until the 1920’s. 

 

In the intervening years Thomas married Ellen Brown, a member of the family in Ellice Township where Anastasia had worked. The young couple moved down the street to 126 Huron St. where they raised their family of 1 daughter and 2 sons. The family matriarch, Catherine, died in August 1913 at 63 years of age.

 

Agnes and Anastasia appear to have been energetic and industrious business women. In 1912 Agnes set up her own real estate business, Writt and Co, working out of her Huron Street house. Within the year she was also in the insurance business and had an office at 6 Downie Street. A January 1914 edition ofthe Beacon Herald featured an advertisement for her company, then knownas A. Writt Fire Insurance and Real Estate, andlocated at 15 Downie Street in the Gordon Block.  At that time she was offering a wide selection of properties for sale or rent. Anastasia had a position as a saleslady at W. J Thurston, a boot and shoe merchant at 19 Downie Street. 

 


In 1922 the Writt sisters proceeded to develop the easterly portion of Lot 82 and construction began on a new house which would become 196 Huron Street. Shortly afterwards 200 Huron Street was listed on the real estate market and early in 1923 they moved, along with their aunt, Nora Crowley who had been living with them, to this new, two storey residence next door. 

 

According to a city directory published in 1924, Agnes was, at that time, one of Stratford’s thirteen real estate agents, and not surprisingly, the only woman in that business. Her name was also on the list ofinsurance brokers where she appears to have been associated with the R. Thomas Orr Insurance Company.  She operated her real estate and insurance business at the Downie Street location until 1940, and after retirement, continued practicing real estate from her Huron Street home. Following Anastasia’s retirement they remained in the house, eventually sharing it with their brother, Thomas, who came to live with them following the death of his wife Ellen known as “Nellie”.

 

Agnes and Anastasia were close in life and tragically they perished together in January 1947 in a house fire at 196 Huron Street. Agnes apparently fell asleep while smoking in bed and was smothered by the smoke from the fire that started from her cigarette. Anastasia suffered severe burns while trying to rescue her sister and Thomas tried to save his sisters but the smoke and fire were overwhelming. Stratford firemen rushed Anastasia to hospital but she died within a few hours. The efforts of the firemen in bringing the fire under control contained the fire to the bedroom area and the remainder ofthe house was untouched. The  Beacon Herald which reported details about the fire under the headline” Fire Fatal to Two Sisters”, stated that their deaths were the first from a fire in the city in several years. 

 

Agnes was 76 years of age and Anastasia 74. Both are buried in St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cemetery, Kinkora, in Ellice Township (Perth East).