NEWSLETTER OF THE ELGIN COUNTY BRANCH ONTARIO GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY BOX 416, ST. THOMAS, ONT. N5P 3V2 ISSN 0827 2816
VOLUME XI ISSUE THREE SEPTEMBER 1992
I hope that all our members had a great summer. Our weather wasn’t too pleasant here as it rained a lot. In spite of the weather we had several visitors to the area researching their families. I am happy that the Elgin OGS was able to help them.
At our October meeting I will be asking for people to serve on a Nominating
Committee to prepare a slate of officers for 1993. It will be chaired by Past Chairperson, Jean Bircham. I hope that some of our members will volunteer to be on the executive or be a committee head. As you are aware this is a voluntary organization.
Everyone’s help is needed to keep our Branch progressing as well as it has for the past ten years. Some of the present executive wish to go on to other things. Ask one of the present executive if you can help. The old saying is ” Many hands make light work”. There are several announcements in this newsletter that I hope you will note. A special event is the re-dedication of the Old St. Thomas Church which will take place on Sat. Oct. 3, 1992 at 2:00 pm. The Lieut. Governor of Ontario, the Honourable Henry N. Jackman; the Bishop of Huron and other dignitaries will attend. Everyone is welcome to attend. [Please see article about the history of the church in this newsletter.] I would like to congratulate Frank Clarke and Jean Bircham for winning in the category of Best Layout of a Newsletter in the Marion Keffer contest.
Our meetings will resume after the summer break with the first one being held at the LDS church in St. Thomas on 9th Sept. at 8:00 pm. See the meeting schedule for other interesting topics and places planned.
Chairperson, Elgin Branch OGS
1881 ST. THOMAS CITY DIRECTORY
Wholesale Manufacturer of
BROOMS & BRUSHES
Sole Manufacturer of the Patent Scrubber and Dryer.
WEST SIDE LINE – ST. THOMAS, ONTARIO.
AS IT IS REMEMBERED, THEN IT SHALL BE (THE OLD ST. THOMAS CHURCH) –
Jeff Booth is a member of the present committee for the restoration work at the Old St. Thomas church.
In St. Thomas, Ontario, on a now quiet back street, on top of a valley slope, there is an old venerable building surrounded by thousands of resting souls. In its time it was a remarkable building and a very memorable one. Not many have wrote about the stories within its walls or outside under its grounds. What I am about to tell is as I have been told and is as I remember “Old St. Thomas Church”.
The land was covered by an almost continual virgin forest, rich and inspiring. Into it came several families looking for a new start and a better life. One such family was the Rapeljes and the year was 1810. These pioneers worked to make a living through difficult times and circumstances. For the Rapeljes one of them was, on 3 November 1819 George James Rapelje, eldest son of Daniel and Elizabeth Rapelje, age 23 years, died. His parents decided to bury him on the most peaceful part of their farm since there was no designated burying ground in their area. No clergy was available but Col. Thomas Talbot, Grand Master, led a short masonic service was held. Lambert, the youngest son of Daniel & Elizabeth Rapelje, died on 25 Dec. 1819. He was interred next to his brother.
In 1820 Rev. Stewart, a pioneer Church of England missionary, who was sent out from Quebec city, came to the area looking for sites suitable to build Anglican churches. A deal was made Daniel Rapelje and the Bishop of Quebec for 2 acres and 2 rods of land for 5 shillings. The churchyard on Walnut St., part of lot 1 South Talbot Road (concession 8) was apparently patented in 1815 to Daniel Rapelje.
In the village of St. Thomas on 11th Aug. 1821, with Simon Nichol as head carpenter, a small rectangular structure was started and completed in 1824. The first minister, Rev. Alexander Macintosh, came to the church in 1824 and, also, was the local school master. At this time Col. Thomas Talbot, the owner of pew #2, was greatly upset that there was no tower on the church. He canvassed for funds in the area and in England. A tower, steeple and chancel were added in 1825 with these funds. On 19 June 1825 Bishop Stewart, the new Bishop of Quebec, celebrated holy communion for the first time in the new church with 12 people participating.
In 1829 Rev. M. J. Boswell was sent to St. Thomas for few months prior to his appointment to a new mission in London.
Rev. Mark Burnham was next to administer to the needs of the local populous. During his 23 years of service many interesting things happened. He married Hetty McKenny Bostwick, a daughter of Col. Bostwick of Port Stanley, on 13 Jan. 1831. Rev. Burnham, in leaving his mark in the church and community, failed at times to leave his mark in the church registers. This led to errors, such as couples being married twice, children being baptized twice or gaps when no records of marriages, burials or baptisms were entered. Maybe this oversight due to Rev. Burnham’s obsession with books. He had a wonderful collection and was quite often seen laying prone in the churchyard with book in hand, spellbound, unobservant of actions or weather around him.
In 1830 Edward Ermatinger moved to St. Thomas and started his store and other business ventures, one of which was the short-lived Bank of Elgin. Edward Ermatinger married Rev. Mark Burnham’s sister, Achsah. In the early days of the 1830’s he led the choir with his violin-cello before the church obtained a pump organ.
By 1850 every pew in the church was rented. There was a need to expand. The transepts were added to the church doubling the seating capacity in 1850. Rev. Mark Burnham moved to Ashburnham, now part of Peterborough, in 1852 and Rev. St. George Caulfeild replaced him. Rev. Caulfield stayed in St. Thomas for 21 years although he may not have enjoyed all of them. At one point the he packed his family and possessions in a wagon and left for England, causing quite an upset. Special meetings were held, news reports were made. Both friend and foe argued in detail over his “removal”, “replacement”, “vacation”, “sabbatical”, or “trip”. The good man did return directly to St. Thomas, upon receiving a supposedly “strongly worded” letter from the Bishop.
In 1860 a promising young curate came to St. Thomas and was ordained at the Old St. Thomas church. Maurice S. Baldwin did most of the leg work of the parish and performed services at the missions at Lambeth, Byron, Glanworth and other places. Rev. Baldwin married Maria Ermatinger, eldest daughter of Edward Ermatinger, on 4 Sept. 1861. The couple moved to Port Dover for Rev. Baldwin’s first parish. There Maria died in childbirth on 10 Feb. 1863 and the baby, Maria Louise, died a few months later on 15 Sept. 1863. Both were laid to rest in St. Thomas Churchyard.
Baldwin’s family supplied a lovely fancy black carved monument from G. Armitage, a sculptor and stone mason, of Toronto. Time and style changes have caused this stone to be the victim of many stories. Many call it the witch’s stone/grave. Rev. Baldwin later became Bishop of Huron and would return to be very important to the church’s later history.
Rev. Caulfeild, it is reported, visited the local prisoners. He supposedly came to the jail regularly to help reform the prisoners. He started a program where prisoners could volunteer to come to church services on Sundays (under guard). I do believe that they came for the walk from the jail to the church, not for the sermon. Many were thought to have smuggled in pencils and wrote graffiti that is still visible today on the walls of the gallery. Rev. Caulfeild went to Windsor in 1873. On 17 Sept. 1882, he was interred in the churchyard.
The churchyard expanded with many of the gravestones carrying the names of the pioneer families of the settlement. In May 1871 all pews and sittings at the St. Thomas church were declared free to all. A resolution was adopted that the doors be taken off all the pews on 28 Apr. 1873. There was talk of moving to a more central location and leaving the old St. Thomas church. This fact was a major consideration in the Bishop’s choice for the next minister. Rev. Stephen Benson Kellogg was chosen. Although not an elderly man his health was starting to fail but his energy did not.
Rev. Kellogg did much of the design work for the new church which was to be located in the middle of town on the corner of Wellington and Southwick streets. Unfortunately he died on 13 Nov. 1875 and was also buried in St. Thomas churchyard. He had chosen a good friend, Rev. T. C. Debarres, as his replacement. Rev. Debarres continued the work on the new church. On Trinity Sunday 1877 the new church, “Trinity Anglican”, was opened and the doors closed at Old St. Thomas church. Even the bell was removed an placed in Trinity church, I suppose as a tie to the old church. The doors of St., Thomas church stayed closed for many years. The lack of repairs became overwhelming. In 1883 the newspaper reported that a plan to disassemble the building was being discussed. The bricks and timbers were to be used to help build a Sunday School behind Trinity Anglican church. The pulpit and the pump organ had already been removed to St. John’s mission on Balaclava St. It seemed that end of the pioneer church was near. I am not sure why that plan did not happen. It could have been because of the interest of the Bishop or of the newly formed churchyard committee. In 1890 the churchyard was placed in the hands of an improvement committee but more years of locked doors continued until 1894. It was then that the yard committee took on the project of “restoring” the old, closed and dilapidated church. On Friday 13 July 1894 the doors were re-opened. The committee made sure that the church had been put in a state of thorough repair. The building had been re-roofed, new eavestroughs put on, brick work repaired, windows and doors repaired, the interior plastered, kalsomined and decorated, the chancel carpeted and matting laid in the aisles. Bishop Baldwin preached to a large gathering, many of whom had worshipped in the old church in the long and almost forgotten past. Both Bishop Baldwin and the Honourable Charles Oakes Ermatinger, son of Edward Ermatinger, helped keep the church open for many years. The Bishop held regular anniversary services there for many years. It was during one of these’ services in Oct. 1904 the Bishop Baldwin faltered in the delivery of his sermon, an uncommon event. A few days later he died. Bishop Baldwin had preached his first and last sermon within the church spanning 44 years. In memory of him a new pulpit was put in the old church, a fitting commemorative. Charles Oakes Ermatinger, the grandfather of the restoration as I call him, died later on 16 Dec. 1921. He was buried beside his first wife just outside the doors to the old church.
A new generation of workers took on another very extensive restoration project in 1928. Over 3000 visitors visited the old church in 1929. with the number of visitors the litter, especially from smoking, became a problem. To hinder the littering of the garbage and cigarette and cigar butts, Mrs. Harvey Firestone of Akron, Ohio, donated the low iron gates at the inner doors to overcome the danger and to restore the sacred character of the church.
The church seemed to go on without much work on it for many more years until 1967. New plaster, fresh white and blue paint on the walls and ceiling, the box pews painted and other work were done to celebrate Canada’s centennial year.
In June 1974 a very interesting “Pageant of the Past” was held at the church. An excellent display of the past in St. Thomas was presented and enjoyed by all. The old building quietly settled in again for several years, seeing few visitors and even less repair. On 29 July 1983 a terrible storm came through the area. The fire department was called out to the neighbouring retirement home only to find it had been a false alarm. As the firemen started to return to the firehall a bolt of lightning struck the tower of the old church and set it on fire. Because of the nearness of the firemen the church was saved, with the only major damage done to the tower. The fire did have a silver lining. It seemed to spark enough interest to start another restoration campaign. That fall the planning started. From that time, work has been done on the church and funds for the more restoration work raised. The current restoration work officially started in 1986 and is drawing to an end. Hopefully this author can help keep interest alive in the old church so that regular maintenance is done. There are still many stories to be related. In this old church is precious knowledge, heritage and tradition that should be transferred to another generation.
“To experience the old church it is best to come for a visit.”
The story of the Old St. Thomas Church, C.O. Ermatinger, no date. Old St. Thomas Church: a collection of clippings and articles through the years, assembled by Jeff Booth, 1991-2
St. Thomas Church. St. Thomas. Ont., W.C. Miller, 1957 Trinity Times, Trinity Church, St. Thomas, vol. 4, #3, Oct. 1967
The Restoration Committee of OLD ST. THOMAS CHURCH
invites you to attend the Celebration Saturday, October 3rd, 1992 at 2 p.m.
Walnut Street, St. Thomas, Ontario
MARRIAGE REGISTER OF WILLIAM HUTCHISON
The following was extracted by volunteers working on an index to the Estate Files of the Surrogate Court for Elgin County 1800 – 1900. The register was found amongst the documents in the file. William Hutchison was apparently a Justice of the Peace for the area and made some notes in a diary type book For further information, please refer to the microfilm “London District Surrogate Registry, 1800-1839” file #131, which is located in the Elgin County Library collection of microfilms located at the St. Thomas Public Library.
19 May 1805, Hanah McMICHAEL, daughter of Edward & Elizabeth, of Walsingham, and William BACKHOUSE, at the house of Elizabeth McMICHAEL, in Walsingham.
25 June 1808, John PERSON, gentleman, of Walsingham, Norfolk County, 70 years, to Miss Maria BACHER, of Walsingham, Norfolk County, 14 3/4 years, by licence from Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada.
19 Nov. 1811, Jeremiah GREENE, Townsend, to Mary MUNRO, Walsingham, at the house of John MUNRO, Walsingham.
1 Dec. 1811, Frank and Miriam WOOD, at house of Barron PEDEMER in Charlotteville.
15 June 1817, George FRANKLIN to Rachel HAZEN.
5 July 1817, William WILSON to Charity SOPER:
5 Apr. 1818, Peter LEMON to Sarah CRONKYTE.
10 Jan. 1819, Obediah PURDY to J HAGERMAN, a widow, at the house of Elias FOSTER.
12 Jan. 1819, William RAMOND to Elizabeth ELLIS, at her father’s house in Walsingham.
9 May 1819, Amasa COOL to Sarah FICK.
26 Jan. 1820, Antony FICK to Juley MCMICHAEL.
15 Oct. 1820, William FRANKLIN to Martha McCLISH.
31 DEC. 1820, Christian FICK to Mary BURGAR.
1 Apr. 1821, Thomas BACKHOUSE to Emila YOUNG.
27 May 1821, Augustus FRANKLIN to Jane SMITH.
24 June 1821, DUTCHER.
8 July 1821, James DEDRICK to Elizabeth EDWARDS, at the house of Mr. STARNS.
12 Dec. 1823, John SALES to Elizabeth OVERHOLTS, at her father’s house.
ST. THOMAS CITY DIRECTORY, 1881
Marriage Licences, Issuers of
- Allwort A J, 250 Talbot
- McKay Wm, county clerk, Court House.
- Martyn J P, 213 1/2 Talbot.
- Claris George T, res 80 Wellington, office 286 Talbot.
NEWS, AND INTERESTING
16th Genealogy Fair
Norfolklore ’92 will be celebrated on Sat., 26 Sept. 1992 at the Eva Brook Donly Museum in Simcoe from 10 am – 4 pm. Some 35 exhibitors with books and supplies are coming. This is your chance to renew old friendships, meet new friends and gather genealogical material.
Region II Meeting
According to the “Oxford Tracer” Sept. 1992, the meeting will be hosted by Oxford OGS in April 1993. It is planned that Mark Jackman will speak on “Victorian births, marriages and deaths”. The other topic mentioned is “Importance of maps in your search”. Further details later.
The June meeting’s topic was “Publishing Your Family History”. Alfreda Veenstra gave the group many hints and ideas about what to do.
9 Sept. – The group will meet at the LDS Family History Centre in St. Thomas. The topic to be ” How to use the computer at the LDS centres.”
14.0ct. 1992 – Alistair Neely about “London Public Library Holdings; & Military Records of London & Middlesex area.
11 Nov. 1992 – Because the St. Thomas Library is closed for the holiday, the meeting is scheduled for the Land Registry Office, Gladstone Ave., St. Thomas, with Don Cosens as speaker.
9 Dec. 1992 – This will be our joint Christmas dinner with the Elgin County Historical Society as hosts. It will be held at St. Mark’s United Church on Holland Ave. in St. Thomas at 7 pm. Social time to follow. Cost is about $11.00. For further information see Marg Daugharty or Nancy Harvey.
13 Jan.1993 – Annual meeting with the election of officers. Please attend.
May 27 to 30, 1993 Toronto, Ontario
For more info: write to:
OGS Seminar ’93
Toronto’s First Post Office, Box 2
260 Adelaide St. E., Toronto,ON
NEW PUBLICATIONS FOR SALE
Please order from the branch address. Included are some from other groups.
Index to Wesleyan Methodist Baptismal Register for Elgin County & N. Dorchester – $18.50
Frank Hunt: Essays of Elgin county: edited by G. Thorman – $17.50
Loyalists: Hugh McCall and Aner Haviland McCall and their Descendants: by H. Pincombe -$20.00
Various Census Indexes for Townships in Elgin County are now available.
Elgin County Branch members are al-lowed two queries published free of charge in each newsletter. Additional queries per newsletter or que-ries for non-members are $3.00 per query. Queries should be submitted at least one month before publication.
BARRIS – $150.00 reward to be split between Elgin Co. Branch OGS and 1st person providing documented info leading to desc of any of the following missing issue of Francis BARRIS of Bayham Twp & named in his 1847 will: Stephen, Nelson, Holland, James, Francis, Sidney, Joseph, Eliza Jane, Charlotte, (Nelson of Dereham Twp is not one). Info to Ross W. McCurdy.
GILLET – Searching for desc of Louisa COLE GILLETT and Yeoman GILLET of Yarmouth Twp, Elgin Co. 1840-1872. Contact Jim Larsen.
DARLING/POWLEY – Ira DARLING b ca 1787 Mass USA? d 1863 Frontenac Co., C.W. m 1811 at Bay of Quinte area to Mary POWLEY b 1793 where? d when? where? d/o Jacob & Nancy. Issue: 10 ch: (1) John b when? (2) Jacob b ca 1814 m Sarah Ann who? (3) Ira b 1816 m Jemima FREEMAN (4) William W. b ca 1817 m Nancy who? (5) Thomas b ca 1818 (6) Charles W. b 1821 m Catherine who? (7) Mary Ann b ca 1827 m Robert LYON (8) Abigail Ann b ca 1828 m Lyman LYON (9) Abraham b ca 1829 (10) Joseph b ca 1833, and others? Am researching all anc and desc B.M.D. dates and places. wish to correspond with anyone who has researched these families. Will exchange data. Reply to C.F. Prong.(a desc of # (2) Jacob DARLING b ca 1814. )
WHITE, James – b ca 1800-1810, ? Ireland, d ?; m ?; Martha SCOTT,b ? Ireland or Scotland. d ? poss bd North Crosby Twp, Leeds & Grenville Co, Ont. Poss immigrated to Can 1864. Ch: (1) Joseph, b ? 1826 Ireland d ? 1912 at Jaffa, Elgin Co. Ont. m 12 07 1862 Meth Church, Malahide Twp, 2nd wife Mary Jane (THOMPSON) KEARNS b ? 1837 Yarmouth Twp. d Jaffa, bd together in Jaffa cem, Jaffa, Elgin Co. Ont. Martha A. WHITE b ? 1830, d 21 03 1805, Weaver; m 19 01 1857 by Rev John. TUKE at parsonage in Elgin, Ont to Sterling Demming PENNOCK b ? Elgin, d ? Elgin, stonemason; bd together in Halliday Cem, Elgin, S. Crosby Twp, Leeds & Grenville Co., Ont. Mary Groves WHITE b? 1833 ? Ireland d 19 12 1914 Westport; Weaver; m ? Enoch BARKER b ? poss Elizabethtown, Ont, d ? prior to 1901 poss bd together in Westport Meth cem, Westport, N. Crosby Twp. Benjamin A. b 24 03 1834 ? Highseas, d 12 12 1901, Jaffa, Elgin Co m 21 02 1859 Reg Baptist Church, Elgin Co. Christie Ann POWERS b 01 01 1838 ? Elgin Co, d 11 03 1917 bd together Aylmer cem, Aylmer, Elgin Co., Ont. Wm “John” b? 1838 Yonge Twp, d 03 01 1923 at Orange Valley, Ont m 30 10 1862 Sarah LITTLEJOHN b 04 12 1837 d 19 04 1886 bd together Orange Valley Cem, Huron Co, Ont. All info to Mrs Brenda Edmonds.
WHITE/PENNOCK – Martha A. WHITE, a Weaver, b ? 1830 ? Ireland or Scotland d 21 03 1905 Elgin, Ont., m 19 01 1857 at parsonage in Elgin by Rev John TUKE to Sterling Demming PENNOCK b ? 1832 ? Can., d ? ; Stonemason; bd Halliday Cem, Elgin, S. Crosby Twp, Leeds and Grenville Co., Ont. Censuses reveal the following ch. What happened to them? Sarah Ann b ? 1857 d ? 1924, bd with prts but had m ? MURPHY (whereabouts unknown) Sarah was dressmaker in Toronto, no known family. Alice o. b ? 1859 d ? 1934, m 20 03 1894, Clinton D BAGERT b ? d ? 1936, bd Plum Hollow, N. Crosby, Leeds & Grenville, Ont, no known family. Millicent b 1859, no further info available. Sterling Demming Jr. b? 1863/64 S.Crosby, d 03 01 1926 Gananoque, Machinist. m ? Luella May RANDALL b ? 1866, d ? 1955 bd in Gananoque Cem. 3 ch: Wm “Ross”, Winnipeg, Wilhelmina, and Clarence, no details about them. William John b 1867 Elgin, d 14 05 1881 bd with prts. George b ? 1867 Elgin, poss a twin, no known info Mary “Matilda” b ? 1869, Elgin, d 24 11 1941, m James W. STANTON b ? 1874 d ? 1956 bd Halliday Cem, Elgin. Issue: Grace A. STANTON b 11 11 1904, d 29 06 1977 m Gerald COON of Ottawa. no further details. Hester Irene b ? 1871 d ? 1896, bd with prts. All info to Mrs Brenda Edmonds.
PARKER/VAN SICKLE/DOWLING/ RICHARDS – Geo PARKER m Hannah ca 1808, need info; Geo Jr m Lydia VAN SICKLE: Wm m Hannah; Mary m Peeress DOWLING; Francis m James RICHARDS; John: Patrick; Jesse & James. All info appreciated by Donald Erkfritz.
DIBERT, William (Wilhelm) b ca 1845 Germany (1) m in 1870 Christina SUSE; (2) in 1885 Mary CLARK; (3) Lucy COLLYER. sibs: Julius d 1870 at Frome, Southwold Twp, Elgin Co; & Charles m Lucy GAGEN. Any info to Jean Bircham.
CLARK, Mary, b 1855 Southwold Twp., Elgin Co. Prts William & Jane CLARK. Sibs John, Alexander, Henry, Jennet. In 1885 m. William DIBERT. Ch: James d 1918 & Christian Frederick d 1973. All info to Jean Bircham.
BENTLEY, Amos b 1768 US m Eleanor _?__. Was Talbot Settler, owned 200 acres North half Lot 6 Con 5, Malahide Twp in 1824. d 23 Oct 1846, bd Rogers Cem, Lot 6 Con 7 Malahide Twp, Elgin Co. Eleanor b 1779 N.Y., d 25 Dec 1862 in Malahide, bd Rogers Cem. Nine ch: James Green, Mary FELKER, Abigail COWEL, Sarah Jane WHITESELL, Amos Jr., Benjamin C. of MI, Solomon, John Thomas, and Eleanor ROSS. Age range 1801 to 1821. Latter child b Canada. Seeking info on Amos’ prts, the Family Bible, and lineage of each child. Will exchange info. Contact Mrs Ida Crozier.
COWEL, Abigail (nee BENTLEY) b ca 1806 in US came to Malahide Twp, Elgin Co., Ont. prior to or ca 1820, dau of Amos & Eleanor BENTLEY. Inherited from her mother, Eleanor BENTLEY w/o Amos of Malahide in 1863 at mother’s death. All info to Mrs Ida Crozier.
JOHN E. PEARCE PROVINCIAL PARK
Located in the park is a memorial plaque with the inscription: “This forested land represents a most gracious gift from John Edward Pearce to the People of the Province of Ontario for their inspiration and enjoyment. It is dedicated to the memory of his ancestors who settled in this area in 1809 and who were mainly responsible for the founding in 1827 of St. Peter’s Anglican Church.”
Any information, either personal or business, is wanted for historical research by the Aylmer & District Museum, 14 East St., Aylmer, ON N5H 1W2, (519)773-9723.
T. ROWE, who was an organ manufacturer. His business was located on the corner of Walnut & Gravel Rd (now John St. North) in Aylmer. It was established in 1881? His partner was LOW.