Newsletter of the
ELGIN COUNTY BRANCH
ONTARIO GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY
VOL. III ISSUE 4 December 1984
FAREWELL FROM THE NEWSLETTER EDITOR
Because of my personal commitments I will no longer be able to write the newsletter. There are many people I would like to thank for help and support, but I would like to give a special thanks to Joyce Locke, who was always ready to lend a hand; from last minute proofreading to helping staple letters.
Everyone has been most kind, there has always been encouraging words and appreciation for my efforts. Even when criticism was necessary, it was of a gentle nature. The praise has been most generous.
Our branch has made tremendous progress. Many people have helped. Our library is shaping up nicely; our cemetery recording is proceeding at a rate I didn’t believe possible. All in all it has been a successful year.
The Best Wishes for a happy, healthful 1985 and GOOD LUCK with research.
September Meeting – Karen Wilkinson is the new librarian and it has been requested that anyone coming to the library check in at the main desk of the school before proceeding to the library.
Kirk Barons- Teacher and chairman of the Heritage program in East Elgin was our guest speaker for the evening. He brought many of collection with him. The history of Malahide Township and Aylmer has been badly neglected and some of the material has already been destroyed. Kirk and his group have been trying to collect and restore as much as possible. They have been searching for Assessment Rolls, Council Records, Financial Statements, Maps, etc. Even flooding in the Aylmer Town Hall hasn’t helped.
History of Aylmer to 1900 written by Kirk Barons is available for $5.00 from the Museum in Aylmer.
October Meeting – Special thanks to all our branch members who helped correlate and bind the 1861 Malahide Census for the Elgin County Library.
Recent purchases for our library – Woodward Family History
Newest McCall Family History
Marriages London District 1800 – 1833
Donations from Elgin County Library – Hugh Sim’s Book on Elgin County A – L
1861 Malahide Census – Indexed
Three Marriage Registers for Elgin County
November Meeting – Sterling Ince, Curator of Elgin Military Museum, 30 Talbot Street St.
Thomas, Ontario N5P lA3, was the guest speaker for the evening. Mr. Ince showed pictures of St. Thomas and of the Military Museum. The museum curator is endeavouring to have a permanent record of all service personnel from all wars. They are requesting that anyone born or enlisted in Elgin County to contact the museum. They are looking for service numbers, pictures and any pertinent information to complete their files. They already have quite an extensive collection, which is a gold mine for genealogists. If you have old service pictures of your self or your great grandfather, etc., they would like to copy them if you are unable to have it done. The Museum is closed Mondays, open Tuesday to Friday 1 – 5, open Sunday 2 – 5, Saturday 10 – 12 and 2 – 5.
Elgin Handles Limited
Elgin Handles is the oldest woodworking industry in St. Thomas, and still operates from the site on which it began in 1887.
It began as John Heard and Company, which started at Lambeth in 1866, moved to Amherstburg in 1878, then on November 26, 1886 signed an agreement with the City of St. Thomas in which it promised to erect a two-storey brick building, 40 x 100 feet, for “manufacturing wheels and other wooden work for carriages,” and to employ an average of forty men daily.
The company purchased property adjacent to the London & Port Stanley Railway on January 14, 1877, and erected a factory in December that same year.
The deaths of John Heard Jr. in 1896, Heard Sr. in 1897, and the early withdrawal of the two sons-in-law finally left William the only member of the original partnership.
He was soon joined by his younger brothers Richard and Robert, additional property purchased, new sheds erected, and by 1906 the firm was employing an average of fifty men.
But if fell on difficult times, and by 1912 had only twelve employees. The advent of the motor car, and failure to develop new product lines may have caused the decline.
Meanwhile, 1915, George P. Smith, Joseph Lewis and his son Charles had formed “The Elgin Handle Company, business to be carried on in the premises of Head and Company or some other premises.” Smith was the business manager. The Lewises, who had worked for the J. H. Still Handle Company, were the operators. At first, the new company operated in premises rented from Heard, but on December 2, 1918 Elgin Handles purchased the Heard property from Molson’s Bank.
The new firm erected a warehouse which was burned in 1933 and rebuilt immediately. After the Second World War, it carried out extensive renovations on the old Heard building.
Like its predecessor, Elgin Handles purchased most if its material locally, but a bird and a pest changed all that. In the early 1930s a pest killed the chestnut trees which had been a favourite of the sapsuckers. These birds then turned their attention to the local hickory trees, eventually making them unsuitable for handles, and the firm had to purchase hickory from Tennessee.
Despite many alterations and additions, and five serious fires in its 97-year history, the original brick building erected in 1887 is still an important part of the plant complex.
In 1983 the company opened a second plant in the local industrial park, and concentrated its new tool division there. Sixty percent of the handle material, mainly hickory comes from Tennessee, forty percent from local sources – mainly white ash, maple, and some hickory which invariably shows signs of sapsucker activity.
The firm has six manufacturing agents in Canada, and also sells to Britain, West Germany Norway, New Zealand, and the United States. Some customers have dealt with the firm since the early 1900s.
Material for this article was taken from “Loyal She Remains”, the new U.E.L. book.
WALKER – LAUR Johnson Walker b 1833 m 1854 Hannah Belinda Laur b 1839, dau of Peter and Jemmima Laur of Yarmouth Twp. Ch: William J, Weeden L, Peter S, Johnson A, John, Susannah, Gordon, Mavis, Florence, George, Bruce A. Johnson d 1885 North Dorchester. Hannah m2 James McIntyre, d 1803 Ingersoll. Need info on anyone listed above. Canadian postage returned.
WALKER-COOK-HALEY Weeden Lafiett Walker b 1856 Aveon d 1922 Parkhill m Ann Clement Cook 1879 Ingersoll. Ch: Maude, William L, Annie, Ethel. Ann d 1898. Weeden m2 Lillian Haley dau of Cecil G. Haley. Dau Gladys Beatrice Wilson, g dau Lillian Wilson. Need info on Weeden and second family. Will return Canadian postage. Info to #256 Mrs. Louise Khasigian.
NICKERSON – TEALL – TURK William Henry Nickerson b 1843? m 13 Feb. 1865 to Harriet Angeline Teall. Dau of Geo. Teall and Selina Turk. Selina daughter of William Turk of Kent Co. Eng. William Nickerson was son of Nathan and Sarah M. Nickerson which is on the marriage register of Elgin County. Elizabeth McCollum, m Col. Titus Williams. Any info of the families of William Henry Nickerson would he appreciated by #239, O.G.S. #8869, Robert E. Williams.
ROWE – three sisters, Mrs. Van Dusen of Grand Rapids, MI; Mrs. Angus Mills of Grand Rapids, MI; and Mrs. Hugh Burger of Edmonton, surviving sisters of Edward Rowe d Aylmer 1934. Need names of parents. Any info to #35 Tony Hofstee.
McLARTY – ORR – LAWSON – WAUGH – GILDERS – SMITH – DOWLING Sadie McLarty b? dau of Paul McLarty (b Yarmouth s/o John & Anne ?) & Mary Jane Orr (b Caradoc dau of Alexander & Mary ?) m l9ll in North Dorchester to Walter Reid Lawson son of Peter Lawson (b Toronto son of Thomas & Elouise) & Alice Waugh (b Canada dau of James R. L. & Isabella). Dau Jeannette Pauline m 1935 in Thedford to Gordon Cecil Smith (b Lobo son of Roy D. Smith & Pearl Gilders.) Pearl Gilders probable dau of George Gilders (b Carlington son of Samuel Gilders & Martha ?) & Barbara Dowling (b Delaware dau of Samuel Dowling & Barbara ?)
SMITH – ROBINSON – GILDERS – DOWLING Roy D. Smith b ? son of Angus Paisley Smith (b Ancaster Twp son of David T. Smith & Mary ?) & Mary Ettie Robinson b Lobo Twp dau of Robert Robinson & Mary Ann ? m 1910 to Susanna P. Gilders in Westminister Twp. Info on anyone in the above two queries to Walter D. Smith.
DAKINS – William Henry d March 5, 1925 bd Dorchester Union, son of William Dakins d March 22, 1920 bd Dorchester Union. Any info on above to #35 Tony Hofstee.
ROBERTS – BROODINER Annie Gertrude Roberts b c 1850 in Aylmer dau of Jonas Roberts and Christianna Broodiner. Later the family moved to Vienna Village. Other ch were Warren, Samatha, George, Malinda, Sarah. Any of the above family would be appreciated by #125, Lynne A. Webb.
DUANE, William Digby – Anglican minister in Aylmer b 1841, Bristol, England m 1873 in Aylmer to Isabella Finnie (dau of John & Nancy Hodgkinson). Need info on Siblings & any reference to where family may have moved, to Brian Pierce.
FERGURSON, David – b 1844 Malahide Twp m 1865 to Alvira Hodgkinson b 1836 Malahide Twp. Any info to Brian Pierce.
CARSON, John b 1815-1820, m Mary Taylor (Lot 3, Range 2, Southwold, about 5 miles west of Port Stanley or North Lake Road). Said to have died between 1840 and 1850, possibly divorced. Info to Norman R. Carson.
BELLOUS – DURDLE Isaac Bellous b ca 1845 lived in Yarmouth, m Mary Durdle of James and Rebecca nee Pineo. Who were parents of Isaac? Isaac and Mary bur in the old St. Thomas Cemetery. Any help will be appreciated by #234 Betty Bellous.
MILLS – John E. Mills, b 7 April 1845, Strathroy, son of Stephan Mills, probably born in Ontario, and Susanna Mills buried in lona (d 1-9-1880, 5-10-1872 respectively). Any info on MILLS would he greatly appreciated by Michael Mills.
COLE – John Cole (1835 – 1881) and Mary Ann Hall Cole (1836-1932). Lived in Iona circa 1854-1880. Ch baptized Anglican in St. Peter’s (Tyrconnell) in 1877. Any info on the family and relations of John Cole to Michael Mills.
OFFER OF HELP
Mrs. Barbara Ries, Alberta, has obituaries from her grandmother’s scrapbook. Many of the people were from Elgin County with Michigan connections, mostly Tuscola County.
She would welcome queries from anyone with Elgin County and Michigan connections. The following is list of people that she has more information.
Mrs. Jane Hall
Sarah A. Hartt
Amos P. Jeffery
V.E. McKim (nee McGuigan)
Mrs. John Spittler (nee Willey)
Duncan R. Graham
Wm. F. Huffmann
Mrs. Stewart Nicholl (nee Watson)
Thomas Talbot – Great historical changes were now beginning to prepare the way for the genesis of the Talbot Settlement and the establishment of the community at Sparta. The British government showed a strong desire to facilitate the orderly development of the area west of Montreal, and in 1791 created the province of Upper Canada with its capital at Niagara, but this was later moved to York (to-day’s Toronto). A vigorous Lieutenant-Governor, Sir John Graves Simcoe, proceeded to set up the political, economic, religious, military, and social structure of the new province. One of his aides, Thomas Talbot of the great Irish family of that name, decided midway through a promising military career to leave the regular army and establish himself as a landowner in the colony.
Since large sections of the lands of south Yarmouth had already been ceded to the Honourable James Baby following a survey by James Augustus Jones in 1799, Talbot chose his principal holdings in Dunwich Township. This did not mean that Talbot was not connected with the further development of Yarmouth and Sparta however, but influence was clearly much less than it would have been had he acquired a large block of land here. Both Colonel Talbot and his trusty surveyor friend Mahlon Burwell were active in defending the region against American attack in the War of 1812. In fact both suffered severely; Burwell was captured by the Americans in 1814 and Talbot’s buildings were destroyed; Talbot himself narrowly escaped capture.
The Doans – Therefore it is perhaps surprising that the Sparta area was investigated and settled while the War of 1812 was still on. Among those who trudged north following the American victory in the War of Independence were Quakers (Society of Friends) who were persecuted because of their refusal to take sides or who simply were obeying the call of the great march westward which characterized the American frontier. One of the Quakers, Jonathan Doan, who had migrated from the Philadelphia area with his father Elijah to the Sugar Loaf area in the Niagara District, now proceeded to “spy out’ the south Yarmouth region. In 1813, with his young grandson Jonathan Steel, he came up Lake Erie to Kettle Creek, stored the boat, and walked through the woods, and proceeded to make a shelter just west of the present Friends’ Cemetery. He purchased two hundred acres of land for himself (Lot 7, Concession 4) from James Baby in June of 1813. The next deed, dated July, 1816 records that 3,000 acres in Concessions 3 and 4 were purchased from James Baby for L ll25. These lands were to be used by the Quakers who Doan was representing, and who soon came in some numbers.
Probably Doan, who had ten children, returned home in the winter of 1813 to 1814. In 1814, the Jacob Preffer, Calvin Witt, Isaac Minor, Jesse Page, Thomas Millard, and William and George Parker families arrived. With the conclusion of the War of 1812 Doan went to his old home in Pennsylvania, and a party of eighteen persons came up. These included William Harvey, Samuel Scott, John Mills of New York State, Joseph Albertson, and John Kipp. Some drove cattle by bush trails while others coasted the shore of Lake Erie from Buffalo to Kettle Creek in scows. Soon a trail was made through the Grand River Swamp enabling waggons to make the journey. Some walked the entire way; for example, “Uncle” Billy Yorke came on foot from Nova Scotia in 1816. In the same year Anderson Montross moved from Long Point and settled near Yarmouth plains. Elias and John Moore came in 1818 as well as James Brown who first traversed the Grand River Swamp by team. In 1819, David Burgess, Christian Zavitz, and Ebenezer Turrill came while Squire Johnson, William Phelan, Reuben Haight, Enos Scott, Richard Bailey, and George Lawton settled with their families in 1820.
The little settlement soon showed signs of progress. In addition to acting as Baby’s agent, Jonathan Doan set about the task of managing his own land. He built a tannery and had one of the Zavitzes who were millwrights erect a grist-mill on the creek running through his land. Prior to this time, the settlers had either to use their primitive plumping-mills or to transport their grain to Long Point for grinding into flour.
The Quaker Meeting – Of course, for the Quakers, spiritual progress was the highest importance. The Yarmouth Friends therefore applied to the Norwich Monthly Meeting to be allowed to establish a Preparatory Meeting. On First Days, Friends met alternately at the houses of John Kipp and Elias Moore. Jonathan Doan sold an acre to the trustees, John Kipp and William Harvey, for five shillings. This first Meeting House was constructed in 1820 on a corner of the Doan farm adjacent to the present cemetery. By 1821, a regular Preparative Meeting was established although a Representative Meeting was not formally established until 1823.
The Haights – Among the most able and devout of the early Quaker settlers who came to Sparta were Reuben and Sarah Haight. They had first settled in Norwich but decided after creditors had pressed them, to move to Yarmouth. The Haights built a log house bringing some construction materials such as sash from Norwich, which was forty miles away. The Haights persevered and proceeded rapidly to clear their heavily-forested clergy reserve lot on the present Sparta-Union Road. The clearance was assisted by some of the numerous family of twelve children. One enterprising son James, sold one hundred bushels of wheat for one York shilling per bushel in 1822; he returned to Westchester, New York, to visit friends and brought a waggon and other materials back with him. Sarah, a Quaker minister, used the waggon to make her rounds. In 1823, Reuben Haight was pressed again by his creditors who seized his scant property and had him imprisoned at Vittoria. After a year’s incarceration, the kindly Quaker was released and returned to Sparta, where his enterprises prospered and he was able to clear the debt.
Progress of the 1820’s – The Sparta settlement proceeded to grow slowly but surely probable paralleling the experience of the Haights’ enterprises. Methodists and Baptists were among the settlers, and they too proceeded to gather for worship. The Methodists even had the pleasure of being visited by the Rev. George Ryerson. A Captain Smith built a distillery in 1816 to provide the settlers with whiskey, that indispensable part of much of pioneer life; needless to say, neither the Methodists nor the Friends appreciated this “necessity”. Indeed they felt that barn raisings would be far better without the drunkenness and fights that often resulted from too much liquor. The first physician, Dr. Hawkins, arrived in 1820, while Dr. John T. Wilson who later became notorious in the ensuing rebellion of 1837 arrived a few years later.
The Blacksmith Shop – Still standing to-day is one of the pioneer necessities of any village, namely, the old blacksmith shop erected in this early phase of the settlement. A pit was dug in a clay bank, water added, straw scattered on this, and oxen tramped down the mixture which was then built into walls over two feet thick. Door and window frames were set in, This old shop which has seen many occupants stands to-day with a few alterations made since its donation to the Women’s Institute by Edgar A. Smith in 1944. In this shop the oxen were fitted, horses shod, and tools and implements made by successive blacksmiths. Horses were still being shod and sleighs were being repaired by the smith in the early l940’s.
The Rebellion of 1837 – The little Sparta settlement became involved about this time in politics in a way that may seem surprising. Two men in the vicinity of Sparta led the local opposition to the governing authorities. The first of these, a Dr. John T. Wilson, made his medical visits about the settlement, spreading dissension wherever he went. He was highly visible because he rode a rather distinctive cream-coloured horse on his calls. The second agitator, George Lawton, was a farmer on a lot west of Sparta; he also did teaching at the Seminary School and some land surveying. In fact, Lawton was a member of an inner group of three who drew up a special petition to advance the aims of the dissidents of the district.
At the provincial level, the struggles of the 1830’s were between Reformer and Tory. Elias Moore, who lived west of Sparta; he also did teaching at the Seminary School and some land surveying. In fact, Lawton was a member of an inner group of three who drew up a special petition to advance the aims of the dissidents of the district.
At the provincial level, the struggles of the 1830’s were between Reformer and Tory. Elias Moore, who lived west of Sparta, stood as a Reform candidate in the crucial election of 1836 and, along with his fellow Reformer Thomas Parke, was elected. But the Tories returned to power nevertheless. Groups of radicals met in Sparta in September, 1837, and prepared to assist a rebellion should one occur. At this time, the rebel leaders in Yarmouth were David Anderson of Suckertown, Dr. John T. Wilson, George Lawton, and Joshua Doan.
Some fifty men left Yarmouth to assist the western rebels who were gathered at the village of Scotland in present day Brant County. But the rebellion miscarried; the rebels disbanded and fled for their lives. Many were arrested and rewards were offered for the capture of their leader Dr. Charles Duncombe, David Anderson, Joshua Doan, and other. The suspects from the Sparta area
– George Lawton, Dr. John T. Wilson, Joshua and Joel Doan – made their escape to the United
States. Joshua Doan was captured after engaging in a foolhardy attack against the village of Windsor in December of 1838. Along with other exiles captured in the raid, Doan was tried, found guilty, and hanged. A memorial plaque at the edge of the Friends’ Cemetery on the west of the village recalls Doan’s fate.
The above article was taken from The Story of the Sparta Settlement by J.P. Martyn, Sparta, Ontario, July 1, 1980 and sponsored by the Sparta Senior Citizens and New Horizons Group of Canada.
Editors Note: Sparta has come alive in the past few years. The Sparta Mercantile was the first restored building (1975); one of the original general stores, built by the present owner’s greatgrandfather in 1842. The shop sells a great variety of fabric items, from baby quilts to jackets, from fabric mobiles to fashion wear designed with a timeless appeal. These craft are sold around Ontario. The Village Tearoom is located in the old Sparta House. It serves a great variety of food and is opened 7 days a week. Sparta Antiques (situated between the Sparta House and The Abbey) has a reputation for selling fine antiques at fair prices, is another shop restored for the visitor. Roseberry Place is a quaint shop with a wide assortment of unusual articles for sale and is located in the east end of historic Sparta House. The Abbey built in 1840 is now the Abbey Gallery and home of water-color artist Peter Robson. It is restored and now is Peter’s working Studio, a gallery for his original paintings as well as being his home.
[A Map of Sparta and surrounding area in 1877 appeared here.]