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Israel was born in Scilly Cove (now called Winterton), Trinity Bay on 15 September 1897. His parents were Robert and May (née Bannister) Downey. For reasons now unknown, but probably after the death of his mother, Israel moved to Champney's to be raised by his uncle and aunt, Robert and Ann Maria (née Bannister) Hobbs. Ann Maria was undoubtedly May's sister. The 1921 census records for Winterton show that Robert Downey was residing in that town with his wife, Amy, son, Alonzo, and daughter-in-law, Beatrice. As well, Israel is recorded in the 1921 census report for Champney's East as "Israel Hobbs" stepson of Robert and Miria Hobbs, born in September, 1897, at Winterton, Trinity Bay.
Robert and Ann Maria Hobbs also raised their niece Bessie May Hobbs. Bessie May never spoke of Israel, except to say that he was raised with her and was lost at sea. Other than this small amount of information, coupled with a certificate Bessie May kept in memory of Israel, the family knew nothing about him.
In 1997, the author located the following obituary for Israel Downey inserted in January 23rd issue of The Evening Advocate for 1925.
(The Evening Advocate, January 23, 1925, page 5)
(Editor Fisherman's Advocate)
Dear Sir: - Will you kindly allow me space in the columns of your most interesting paper the Advocate to record the loss of my brother, Israel Pierce Downey, an only brother who lost his life on January last, when the ill-fated schooner "President Coaker" met her doom at Shoe Cove. One can't imagine the cruel time it was on that cold icy water of the Atlantic. He was the youngest son of Robert Downey of Winterton. He became the adopted son of Robert and Maria Ann Hobbs, when 2 years old, at Champney's Sast (East?). He went to Champney's at an early age to live with his aunt. He was the only support they ever had. It was a severe blow to those whom he lived with. He is missed by all who knew him. "Gone but not forgotten". We hope and trust that our loss will be heaven's gain.
He left to mourn, two aunts, Mrs. Robert Hobbs, whom he lived with, and Mrs. Henry Sweetland, at Montreal, father, one brother and four Uncles, namely; Alexander, James, John, and William Bannister, sons of the late William Bannister of Port Rexton, and a great number of other friends. Although parted by the cold icy water of the Atlantic and the great monster death, which we must all pass through sooner or later, we hope to meet each other again "where no storms ever beat on that glittering strand, while the years of Eternity roll".
A few more storms shall beat, On this wild rocky shore, And we shall be where tempest cease And surges swell no more.
Now, Mr. Editor, hoping I have not taken up too much of your space, and wishing the "Advocate" and its readers, every success.
Page revised: August 2002 (Terry Piercey)
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