Newsletter of the
ELGIN COUNTY BRANCH
ONTARIO GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY
VOLUME XVIII ISSUE TWO
Extracts of Genealogical information
Once again our branch is volunteering in the George Thorman Room at St. Thomas Public Library where our collection is housed, on Saturday afternoons from 1 to 4 p.m. from June to October. There are still six Saturdays open which we need to have filled. If you can help, please contact me by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is probably the only job you will ever hear of where no experience is necessary!
Your role as a volunteer is simply to assist people with their genealogical research.
Remember, if no one shows up needing help, you get to work on your own research!
Our branch participated at Seminar ’99 with our sales table, featuring nine new publications, and we will also be at London Public Library’s genealogy book sale on June 26.
In March our branch hosted a Genealogy Day at St. Thomas Public Library where we assisted approximately ten people with their research. It proved to be an excellent opportunity to promote our Society and genealogy in Elgin County.
It is gratifying to see so many new faces at our meetings. Please feel free to let us know how we can help you further your pursuit of genealogy.
About to come off the press! The long-awaited resource book for Elgin County – “Discovering Your Roots in Elgin: A Guide to the Genealogical Resources in Elgin County” – is in the process of being published and will be available for sale shortly. This book lists every major source of microfilmed and published material available to researchers in Elgin County; place names, cemetery locations, addresses of institutions, available indexes, plus much more. No Elgin County researcher should be without a copy!
I hope everyone has a good summer and good luck in their research.
St. Thomas Times Journal
Jan. 1, 1878
James Parker, who was found in an insensible state last week, in a buggy at Port Stanley, expired on Sunday night. He never recovered consciousness. We believe an inquest was held yesterday.
July 22, 1879
John B. Binns, son of Mr. John Binns, of Yarmouth was drowned in the Mississippi River at Wabacha, Minnesota, on the evening of the 12th inst. He had gone in to bathe, along with some others, and it is supposed that he was seized with cramps. Every effort was made to find the body, but it had not been recovered when the last intelligence arrived. Decease was nearly twenty-three years of age, and served his apprenticeship with Mr. John Wegg of this town.‘
HOUSES OF WEST ELGIN
Published by the Elgin Historical Society
Index of Heads of Families included in the “Houses of West Elgin” that includes genealogical information:
BACKUS, Andrew 122
BACKUS, Stephen 57
BARBER, John 76
BLACKWOOD, James 92 BLACKWOOD, Robert 66
BOBIER, John 76
BOBIER, Joshua 198
BROWN, Archibald 131
BURWELL, Col.Mahlon 22, 38
CAMPBELL, Duncan 87
CLARK, Elijah 70
CLARK, John 217
CONN, Merideth Sr. 105
CONN, Merideth Jr. 90
COYNE, Henry 186
DeCOW, Daniel 191
FOWLER, Levi 135
FUTCHER, Thomas 117
GRAHAM, Archibald 146
GRAHAM, Malcolm 165
GRAY, John 240
HARRIS, Charles 181
HARRIS, John 54
HARRIS, William 23
HARRIS, Samuel 54
KERR, Archibald 146
LEWIS, Chauncey 115
LUCAS, John 198
LUMLEY, Coughiain 150
LUMLEY, Joseph 225
MARLATT, Dr. George 208
MILLER, Eli 232
MILLS, John 229
MORRIS, Robert 8
MACNISH, Duncan 99
McCOLL, Duncan 220
McCOLL, Mary (Leitch) 222
McCOLL, Nichol 35
McGUGAN, Daniel 202
McKAY, James Grossart 214
McKAY, Neil 163
PAGE, Jonas 171
PARTRIDGE, John Sr. 235
PATTERSON, Col. Leslie 24
PEARCE, William 154
PENWARDEN, Dr. John M. 208
ROBB, George 75
ROLPH, Dr. John 49
ROGERS, Edward 143
SMITH, Dr. Duncan 206
STOREY, Mary 122
TAIT, Francis A. 216
TALBOT, Col. Thomas 14
THOMSON, Archibald 236
WATSON, Hugh 128
WILLEY, Moses 174
If you would like to purchase “Houses of West Elgin” at $35.00 for a hard cover book plus shipping you can contact our branch and we will arrange for it to be mailed to you email@example.com
THE TILLSONBURG NEWS
Thursday, September 4, 1952
.Arizona, Michigan Ladies Seeking Records of NUNN, CLINE Families
Mrs. Cora M. BEACH of Yuma, Arizona, together with her cousin, Mrs. Paul LABIAN of Flint, Michigan, were in Tillsonburg and district last week to continue the quest for the records of the family “tree.” So far they have been successful in compiling a considerable amount of information on both the NUNN family and the CLINE family sides of the relationship but there are still some gaps in the records. The CLINE family, according to their information, is said to have been established in Lincoln County, Ontario, around 1800, in the township of Clinton. Peter CLINE seems to have been the first ofDthat name to settle there and is said to have married a widow, Sarah (?) WAGNER. Her maiden name is said to have been SCOTT. They had a son, Abram. On May 8, 1801, Frederick was-born. It was he who married Olive NUNN, niece of Joshua NUNN and a daughter, Elizabeth or Betsy, who married Joshua NUNN, the first settler. There was also a son, Clement, a daughter, Nancy, who married a Mr. HOUSE and another daughter who married a Mr. ABBEY.
The Archivist Dept. at Ottawa lists a Peter CLINE in the Second Regiment of Norfolk
Militia, November, 1838. There was also an Abram WAGNER in the First Regiment of Lincoln Militia in Capt. MCEWEN’s Flank Company in June, 1812, later in Capt. Jacob, BALL’s Flank Co.
Whether the Peter mentioned in these records was the first settler or not it is not known for Mrs. BEACH has little information of his family.
Their earliest authentic record of the NUNN family begins with Joshua NUNN of whom they have found little official information. Tradition says he came from Pennsylvania to Upper Canada early and it is known he was there in early 1800 because he served in the War of 1812. (from the Archives Publique Du Canada, Ottawa, 23 January, 1823. Search Ref. No. 5192)– we have the information that Joshua NUNN belonged to Capt. Philip HOUSE’s company, Lincoln Militia, and that he is reported absent from the company in October, 1813. A Joshua NUNN was found in 1790 census, Northumberland County.
Isaac Brock NUNN, born June 23, 1837, and grandson of Joshua,Dstated in 1908 that Joshua had brothers, Benjamin, Johnathan and Isaac, but no official proof of this has been located, and he thought they had lived in New York State. John W. NUNN, son of Benjamin and grandson of Joshua who had always lived near the old home in Ontario, wrote in 1931 that his grandfather’s brother, Benjamin, married Elizabeth FRETZ on March 17, 1807.
Joshua is said to have been a millwright. He built a grist mill at the mouth of the Little Otter between Vittoria and Richmond, also near Port Dover. He finally settled on Talbot Street, about two and one half miles from what in 1908 was Courtland, and is said to have had a farm of 200 acres.
The following Bible record is taken from what Mrs. BEACH believes to have belonged to Elizabeth (Betsy) CLINE, wife of Joshua NUNN. The Bible is in her possession.
“Newly translated out of the Original Greek and with the former Translations Diligently Compared and Revised By His Majesty’s Special Command Appointed to be read in Churches Edinburgh”
Printed by Adrian Watkins, His Majesty’s Printer MDCCLX (1755)
These are exact records copied from the old Bible and we know nothing more of them or how they are connected with the NUNN and CLINE lines:
“Sarah HIGGINS was born October the 10th, either 1705 or 1765 (figure is indistinct),
Clary (or Clory or Cloy) CLINE, Moses BOWEN February 11, 1796
The children of Joshua and Betsy (CLINE) NUNN were:
Jacob NUNN, born September 17, 1807;
Catrean NUNN, born April 11, 1809;
Johnathan NUNN, born March 31,1811;
Benjamin NUNN, born May 18, 1813;
Peter NUNN, born April 18, 1816; Clement NUNN, born February 17, 1820;
Satrean–Catherin married David BIBBLE.
Joshua NUNN was buried in the Township of Middleton, County of Norfolk, Ontario, March 27, 1854, at age 87 years, 5 months, l5 days, making birth about 12th of November, 1866. The Jackson cemetery was where interment took place.
A cousin of Isaac Brock NUNN who had always lived around Tillsonburg, Ontario, and who was the son of Benjamin NUNN (son of JOSHUA) wrote in 1921 that Betsy (CLINE) NUNN, his grandmother, died in his father’s home about 1865.
Jonathan NUNN, son of Joshua NUNN, was born March 31, 1811. Charlotte TAYLOR, born June 30, 1816.
Jonathan NUNN and Charlotte TAYLOR were married in the township of Clinton, Canada-West, September 8, 1835, by the Rev. George MCCLUCHEY, Presbyterian minister.
Their children were:
Isaac Brock Henry, born June 23, 1837, in Brantford, Canada;
Elizabeth Catherine, born May 5, 1839, in
Jacob Edward, born August 27, 1841, in Brantford, Canada West;
Martha Hannah, born June 18, 1842,[N] Dorchester;
THE TILLSONBURG NEWS
Thursday, September 4, 1952
Arizona, Michigan Ladies Seeking Records of NUNN, CLINE Families
Joshua Colburn, July 10, 1846, Dorchester, C.W.; Mariah Elen, August 23, 1848, in Springfield,Canada West; Sarah Ann, born December 25, 1851, in Malahide, C.W.; Harriet Bethia, born July 6, 1854, in Malahide, C.W.; William Jonathan, born January 18, 1857, in Vienna, C.W.; David Wesley, born September 8, 1859, in Bayham , C.W.
Joshua Colburn drowned May 19, 1849, aged 2 yrs, 10 mons, 19 days.
Charlotte NUNN died in Middleton, C.W., June 26, 1869, aged 52 years, 11 months, 26 days, of fever.
William Jonathan died in Norwich, Ontario, on January 21, 1870, aged 13 years and 3 days of fever.
Information not in the old Bible: Jonathan NUNN died at the home of his daughter Elizabeth ANDERSON, Merrill, Michigan, in January, 1892.
Isaac Brock NUNN, son of Jonathan wrote of his mother, Charlotte, “One thing I will say, my mother was a blonde and as I remember her in her youthful and balmy days of aristocracy she was extremely beautiful – in fact you would not find one in a thousand who. excell her –”
The family record of Benjamin NUNN and Elizabeth FRETZ: Benjamin was born April 16, 1775 (a brother of Joshua); Elizabeth was born April 22 1788.
They were married on March 17, 18O7, and their children were as follows: Thomas NUNN, May 18, 1808; Esther, July 23, 1809; Olive, Sept. 30, 1811; Anne, Feb. 13, 1814; Manassah, April 2, 1816; William, April 29, 1818; Jonathan, Sept. 25, 1820; Mary, April 9, 1823; Samuel, Dec. 25, 1825; Judith, Aug. 13, 1828; Joshua, Feb. 28, 1831; Thomas NUNN died June 25, 1808; Joshua NUNN died Feb. 25, 1832; name unknown, died Sept. 21, 1890.
Mrs. BEACH, whose address is Box 850, Yuma, Arizona, and Mrs. LABIAN, visited a number of members of the family in this district trying to fill in the history of the family. She said she would appreciate any information that could be sent to her.”
Submitted by: Fred Prong
The Aylmer Express: Feb. 12, 1942
Well Known Sparta Couple to Celebrate Golden Wedding
February 16, 1942 will mark the golden anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Turrill, of Sparta, Ontario. Mr. and Mrs. Turrill were married fifty years ago in Aylmer by Rev. Thompson. They took up farming on the lake road south of Sparta and have always lived in that district as successful farmers, expect for five years at Dunboyne and three years at Kingsmill. Some six years ago they retired and have since lived in Sparta.
Mr. and Mrs. Turrill have one son, Clarence Turrill, Sparta; and one granddaughter, Mrs. Roger Partlow, Aylmer. Mr. and Mrs. Turrill attend the United Church at Sparta, of which Mr. Turrill is a member, Mrs. Turrill retaining her membership in the Aylmer Baptist church. Mr. Turrill is a member of the Canadian Woodmen of the World.
Mr. Turrill was born February 16, 1870, at Copenhagen. He had two brothers, one of whom is living, Edgar Turrill, of Vienna, Ont. Before her marriage, Mrs. Turrill was Mary Jane Ryckman. She was born Dec. 5, 1872 at the Ryckman homestead, two miles south of Sparta. Mrs. Turrill had four brother and four sisters, those surviving being Frank Ryckman, 22 Hincks Street, St. Thomas; George Ryckman and John Ryckman, both of Union; and Mrs. Augusta Fulton, of Sparta. Mrs. Turrill’s grandfather was a first cousin of Abraham Lincoln, famous President of the United States.
Mr. and Mrs. Turrill will receive their friends on Monday, February 16, from three to five and from seven to nine o’clock at their home in Sparta.”
The Aylmer Express: June 3, 1943
SPECIAL EDITION OF THE EXPRESS IN 1894 TELLS OF SMALLPOX SCARE
We believe that most of us fail to realize just what medical science has done for us over a period of half a century or less. Sometimes we grumble and find fault when the local M.O.H. suggests that our children should be vaccinated or inoculated at certain intervals. We complain because the Department of Public Health in Ontario makes it compulsory that all milk sold for human consumption be pasteurized. Yet undulant fever, contracted from drinking milk from diseased cows was the direct cause of the death last week of Edsel Ford, multi-millionaire of Detroit, who probably was protected as a youth from all sorts of contagion and danger. Because of preventative medicine there are few, if any, epidemics in training camps or among the men and women in the active services overseas. The famous sulfa drugs, blood transfusions and new technique in operations performed are saving the lives of hundreds of fighting men who would have died in the war of 25 years ago. By reason of inoculation, smallpox, diphtheria, etc. have become very rare and are almost isolated.
Years ago smallpox and diphtheria were feared as a plague and the unfortunate victims of smallpox were isolated in what was termed the “pest house” at the outskirts of town. Everybody feared to go near them and casualties were high. We are reminded of those terrible days by a special edition of The Aylmer Express, published on February 4th, 1894, circulated in this district to tell the public the true situation regarding a smallpox “scare” at Copenhagen. The special edition gives some idea of the fear of the disease in the hearts of the people in those days. This special edition has been kept by Mrs. J. W. Benner, of Aylmer, for these fifty years.
The article about smallpox read in part as follows: “It is to be regretted that smallpox has broken out again in several houses near Copenhagen. As a duty which The Express owes to its readers and the community in general, we shall, regardless of all criticism, favourable or unfavourable, endeavour from week to week to tell the whole truth and the exact truth, so far as we can learn it, of the progress or staying of the disease, not only in the township, but also in the town, should it unfortunately break out here. The position of affairs this morning (Feb. 4th, 1894) is this. There is not a case of smallpox in Aylmer and no symptoms of any. The nearest cases are at Copenhagen, about seven miles south of here. In further corroboration of this we publish here a letter from Mr. John Crawford, Chairman of the Aylmer Board of Health: ‘Editor Express. I am told that there are rumours of the existence of smallpox in the town of Aylmer. This is utterly untrue. Up to this morning there have been no cases and I hope we shall have none. There are no cases nearer than Copenhagen, seven miles from here. – John Crawford.’
The paper went on to say that every possible precaution had been taken to prevent the disease from spreading to Aylmer, and that Dr. Bruce, the Provincial Medical Health Officer, had been notified and was expected here at one. The reason for the special edition was that the rumour of smallpox in Aylmer had so frightened the people of the district that they had ceased to come to Aylmer to do business and to trade for fear of contracting the disease. Thanks to medical science we believe those days are gone forever.” CENSUS RECORDS
The Aylmer Express: June 3, 1943
EARLY MEDICAL MEN OF ELGIN COUNTY
Written and Published by the Late Ella N. Lewis, for the Elgin Historical Society
One of the pioneer physicians of Aylmer was a Dr. Ault, coming from Montreal, and after a few years spent in Elgin county, returned to his home city in Lower Canada – as Quebec was then called. When Aylmer had the smallpox panic in 1872, Dr. Ault was sent for to advise on the case of Alfred Kennedy, who brought the dread disease to Aylmer. Dr. Foote had first attended the sick man, not knowing the nature of his ailment, and when it was ascertained to be smallpox, the doctor resigned care of the patient, as he had too many sick people under his care who would be exposed through him to the scourge, and doubtless personal reasons influenced, as when he broke out in a rash a few days after he relinquished the care of Mr. Kennedy, he was very much alarmed and remained in strict quarantine for a few days, when the rash disappearing, he realized too many buckwheat cakes were responsible for the trouble. Dr. Ault came by train from Montreal to St. Thomas, hiring a conveyance to drive to Aylmer, putting it in the local livery stable for the night. Before morning the old National Hotel on the north corner, with its adjoining stables, was burned to the ground and the St. Thomas outfit was not recovered from the flames, to the cost of bringing Dr. Ault from Montreal was added the sum of $300 to pay for the horse and conveyance belonging to St. Thomas.
Dr. Adolphus Williams
Dr. Adolphus Williams was born in London, England, March 3rd 1809, receiving his doctor’s degree there, coming to Canada in 1836. He came to Aylmer about the time Dr. Dancey removed to Malahide, and had a lucrative practice in hat thriving town for many years. In 1839 he married Mary Burdick, a daughter of Elder Caleb Burdick, one of the early pioneers of Malahide, and they had a family of six children, the eldest girl marrying Dr. P.M. Mann, who eventually succeeded to the practice of Dr. Williams. Another daughter married the Rev. T.R. Davis (who was for many years the rector of St.
George’s Anglican church, Sarnia, but they are now living in Vancouver, B.C.) Dr.
Williams was a well-informed man, of extensive reading habits, and extremely pleasing in conversation, and was counted one of the best family doctors in that part of the country. Dr. Williams died in Aylmer, March 22nd, 1885.
Dr. P.M. Mann
Dr. Mann was born in St. Thomas, May 14th, 1832, and was therefore only a few days over 63 years old at the time of his death on June 1st, 1895. His father was of United Empire Loyalist stock, coming to this country when it was almost a wilderness. Dr. Mann studied medicine with Dr. Vanbuskirk, of St. Thomas, graduating at the Buffalo Medical University in 1857, and at Victoria University in 1858. He first practised at Wallacetown, remaining but a short time there, then coming to Aylmer, and two years later going to Richmond, then a busy business place with quite a large population, where he remained until 1886. At that time he returned to Aylmer, where he continued in his profession until removed by death. There were twelve brothers in the family, seven of whom were living at the time of Dr. Mann’s death, and six acted as pallbearers at his funeral, at the request of the dead brother. His wife was a daughter of Dr. A. Williams, one of the pioneer physicians of East Elgin, and they left two children, H.W. Mann, of Malahide, and May, the wife of Dr. L. Brown, Aylmer, both of whom are at this time living.
Dr. Mann was a strong Conservative of the old school, and was much interested in all questions relating to the welfare of the country, and in Elgin county, being for five years a member of the Bayham Township Council. Mrs. Mann died at the home of her daughter several years ago in her 73rd year, and was greatly missed by a large circle of friends, as well as by the community at large.”
The Aylmer Express, August 22, 1935
RICHMOND VILLAGE WAS PART OF TALBOT LAND GRANT
First Settler Arrived in 1812
Women’s Institute Held Grandmother’s Meeting.
(Note: The article begins with a report of the Institute meeting which is of little importance to our newsletter, but states that “Mrs. Norman Stansell, of Port Burwell, was the guest speaker and gave a well prepared paper on the Village of Richmond, which is printed below.”)
Historical Notes on the Village of Richmond
The village of Richmond, situated in Bayham township, was part of the Talbot Land Grant of 1803. This grant to Colonel Talbot was originally ten thousand acres, but was extended to six hundred and eighteen thousand acres, and twenty-eight townships. Each pioneer family received fifty acres, and the Colonel who had a personal grant of five thousand acres, received another one hundred and fifty acres, for every settler he established. It seems that the Colonel, therefore, must have accumulated an estate of the value of the land, of about twenty-one townships, a good business proposition for him and his heirs. Talbot, of course, sold more land to settlers, at the price of about thirty dollars for one hundred acres at first. This may have been increased later.
From the time of the Conquest of Canada in 1763 to 1788, the spot where I stand was part of the British colony of Quebec. In 1788, it became a part of the District of Hesse. In 1792 it was included in the Western District of Upper Canada, under Governor Simcoe, and according to counties, was in Norfolk. In 1798, another Act was passed, naming townships for Norfolk and Middlesex, but Bayham and Malahide were not surveyed or included in either county, although Middlesex contained all the other present townships of what is now Elgin County. The delay in surveying and naming Bayham and Malahide, was probably due to an unfavourable report for an assistant surveyor, Patrick McNiff, who wrote, that having observed the banks along Lake Erie in this district to be yellow and white sand and very high and inaccessible from the lake level, it was unsuited for early settlement. Townships were therefore laid out first on the Thames river.
Richmond’s first settler was a Joseph DeFields, about 1812, who soon afterwards was keeping a hotel very near the present bridge over the Otter Creek, just at the east of the village. The name Richmond came from that Duke of Richmond, whose good lady gave a ball, the night before the Battle of Waterloo. In 1815, Talbot, who was a close friend of the Duke of Wellington, was probably responsible for the naming. During the War of 1812, the different bodies of American troops raided this district, pillaging and burning, only one of which came as far as Richmond. This was General McArthur, with fifteen hundred men who came up the Thames and to the Grand River, then turned south for fear of the Brantford Indians, and returned to Detroit, along what is now Talbot street, passing the Otter at Richmond, unnamed at that time. In 1816, Caleb Cook settled here, and 1819, William Fisher built a store, and soon after, a Mr. Spore started a tannery. There were two or three stores, two tanneries, and two hotels before the Rebellion of 1837s. Richmond is much older than Port Burwell, Vienna, Straffordville, Aylmer, or Tillsonburg and up until 1835, was much larger than Aylmer, which went ahead much faster after the coming of the Railway in 1871.
Richmond had its troubles one hundred years ago. A historical atlas of Elgin County, published in 1877, by H.R. Page and Co. of Toronto, from which most of these notes are gathered, gives an interesting account of a political meeting which met here just previous to the Rebellion. The meeting of course, a convention of Reformers, from at least three townships. The speaking was concluded in order, but a small riot occurred between the members of the two parties in the street outside afterward. A magistrate, Mr. Doyle McKenney, was finally summoned to read the Riot Act. He proceeded to do so from the upper window overlooking the struggle below. Before he really got started, Mr. B. Cook seized him by his coat collar and some other part of his clothing convenient to balance him properly, and ejected him down the stairway, riot act and all. The outcome of the battle is not stated, but no lives were lost. The agitation to form another County on Lake Erie, began in 1846, and Vienna was at one time expected to be the county town, for a group of townships, but in 1851, Elgin was formed with its present townships. The Atlas referred to before, shows a good picture of the residence of Mr. George Laing, and also a map of the village, showing such street names as Richmond Church, John, Centre, Mill, and it leaves seven others unnamed. The postal authorities did not accept the name of Richmond on account of duplication, but the name has persisted, and probably will for some time yet.”
The Aylmer Express: Aug. 24, 1944
(Note: the community of Mount Vernon referred to in the following article is located in the township of South Dorchester )
MT. VERNON SCHOOL 50 YEARS AGO
By Lloyd Babock, Springfield, R.R. 1
The other day I had the occasion to pass Mt. Vernon School, formerly known as “Walker’s Corners”. It was then I received an inspiration to write a biography of my school days during the years 1893 to 1901. I thought it might prove of interest to the readers of The Express, especially for some of the boys who are in overseas service who happen to be readers of their home paper.
The old cottage schoolhouse of those bygone days has been sold and moved away to the farm of Tom Farrow. It once stood on the northeast corner on the farm now occupied by Mrs. A. Degroat, and her son Charles. A new brick one now stands on the opposite corner which was built in 1914. In 1893 that farm, now owned by Charles Collison, was then occupied by a man named Empey. The south east farm now owned by Harvey Nigh at that time belonged to J.L. Wolley, while the southwest corner now owned by George Johnson at that time was the home of Hiram Corless.
During the period of eight years of my school days, the trustees were as follows: William Coleman lived on the farm where the old school house then stood. Others were J. L. Woolley, and William Charlton. Mr. Charlton now resides in Springfield, and will be 86 years old on August 27th next. He is the only one of the trustees now living. Besides my father, S.G. Babcock, there also were Duncan Ferguson and Robert Newell. There are only six of us who were boys at that time, who now occupy their father’s old homesteads, namely: James Corless, Vernon Farrow, Harvey Heavenor, Norman Ferguson, Ray Ferguson and myself.
Of the girls and boys who once attended that school, the following ones which I can recollect are known to have passed to the Great Beyond. The girls were Jessie Charlton, Alta May Corless, Bella Woolley, May Koyl, Lottie Taylor, Jennie Fleming, Edith Brown, Pearl Smith, Mary Johnson, Celia Charlton, Lizzie McPhail, Rebecca Eden. Among the boys were Will Koyl, Carmen Hegler, Ernest Cole, Grant Stover, Jess Fleming, Roy McPhail, Ernest Winter, Harry Nigh, John Ruckle, John Heavenor, John Johnson, Jim Whaley, Earl Smith, Alex Coleman, Erz Mabee, Roland Berdan and Elijah Pound.
Teachers’ salaries in those days ranged from $250 to $300 per year. During those years we had five teachers who were as follows: Ada May Cloes, of Aylmer, 1893-94; James Edward Newell, of South Dorchester, 1895-96; Letty May Thompson, of Lyons 1897; R.S. Evans, of Corinth, 1898-99; and 1900 until the summer holidays. Last was Melita N. Ford, from Petrolia, who taught the balance of 1900 and 1901. Miss Thompson, J.E. Newell and R.S. Evans have all passed away.
Remembers First Day at School
I remember the first day my brother Orris and I attended school; it was on Tuesday, August 22nd, 1893. School in those days always reopened on the third Monday in August. We used to get a week’s holidays at Christmas, Good Friday at Easter, and Queen Victoria’s birthday, the 24th of May. One of our aunts went with us the first day. She was mother’s youngest sister. I remember the word “eggs” was written on the north blackboard. There was also a large photo of Queen Victoria hanging on the east wall which had been taken on her 74th birthday. Miss Cloes was a good teacher, but rather strict. She used to let the smaller boys and girls out at last recess in warm weather to play until 4 o’clock. On one of these occasions I had the misfortune to smash the index finger on my left hand between two bricks. The pain nearly drove me frantic. Some of the boys and girls still recollect the episode.
In 1894 Joseph Laur moved on the farm occupied by Mr. Empey. I recall one day at noon he called us boys over to help weed his turnips where the present school now stands. He gave us boys 3 cents a row. It was the first money I ever earned working out. I was real proud to think I had made enough money to post a letter.
When James E. Newell took over our school in 1895, the scholars’ attendance was the largest in the history of the school. There were 65 scholars on the roll and he taught the first year for $250. We all liked him and always called him “Jim”. He used to tell us Indian and ghost stories which used to frighten the girls somewhat. Friday afternoon would be devoted to giving us matches in spelling, geography, history or arithmetic. We always looked forward to the weekend. That was the method he used to encourage us in our studies. Being an athlete, he was a boy among boys. He would come out and play football, baseball and prisoner’s base. One thing he detested among the boys was for anyone to lie, try to be stuck-up or prove himself a “sissy”. He always enjoyed sports. If any of the boys happened to have an argument, he would make a ring and have it settled with a fair fight. Either Irish rough and tumble, or ring style, stand up and knock it. He made a capital referee. He taught the boys the art of self-defence by giving them lessons in boxing and wrestling. “Shake hands and part good friends”, was his motto, and hold no grudges. Some of the boys he had christened after the great fighters of those days. The titles of some of the boys which I can remember were as follows: Harry Nigh (Jake Kilrane); Carmen Hegler (Peter Jackson)Sanford Woolley (John L. Sullivan);
Ernest Winter (Bob Fitzsimmons); George Koyl (Jim Jeffries);Clifton Charlton (Tommy
Ryan); John Heavenor (Tom Sharkey); Lloyd S. Babcock (Jim Corbett); Elmer Laur
The Aylmer Express: Aug. 24, 1944
MT. VERNON SCHOOL, Continued
(Kid McCoy); Orvis Babcock (Peter Mayher); Earl Smith (Gus Rulan); Orrie Ferns (Joe Gans); Harvey Heavenor (Terry McGovern); Otto Woolley (Spike Sullivan); and Charlie Brown as called (Charley Mitchell).
Sees First Barn Raising at 10
I recall the summer of 1895, when J. L. Woolley had an old-fashioned frame barn raising. After dinner Jim marched all the girls and boys in two files up to see it, and took part in the contest. Tom Hetherington, of Springfield, was the carpenter. William Hegler and James Eden were the captains of the opposing teams. I remember the west side, under the leadership of William Hegler won the race. John Charlton, one of the workers on the east side, got his hand pitched on one of the tenants of the posts. I recollect him coming to the house to get turpentine to put on his injured member.
Starts to Write Poetry in School
It was during that year that George Koyl, a chum of mine who used to sit with me in school hours. He was a “Grit” and I was a “Tory”. We used to write poems about the two opposite parties. Jim used to read our poems to the other scholars. He used to get a great kick out of it. That is how I got into the poetry business which I have followed for 50 years. George is now in Portland, Oregon. I quite often hear from him. He still follows his literary talents.
Miss Thomson came next in 1897, and stayed only one year. She did not get on very well in the school. Jim had given us too much liberty, and we were so mischievous. I remember she thrashed nearly everyone of us boys because we had tapped the maple trees along the road. This of course, bred discord and rebellion among us. It soon developed into such an open rupture that she was glad to leave when her year was up.
When Sam Evans took over our school for the next 2 ½ years, he proved to be a good teacher. He soon won our respect by being strict. Yet he had a kind, manly spirit. He would always open the school with prayer and singing. He encouraged the boys and girls to take their part in a monthly program of readings, recitations and singing. Most of the songs which he taught us were patriotic pieces like “Rule Britannia”, “The Red, White and Blue”, “God Save the Queen”, and “The Maple Leaf Forever”, and other old favorites.
I can always remember the late Inspector Atkins, who used to visit our school twice a year. The boys used to think him rather harsh at first, but as we grew older, we took a liking towards the old gentleman. He used to remind us of Mr. Toll in the Fourth Reader. Like “Daffy Down Dilly” we in time got used to his ways and made him welcome when he would visit the school. When we would see him coming, George and I, who were the two poets, would shout out: “Here’s Inspector Atkins coming round again, With a little bunch of whiskers on his chin.”
In the winter time we boys used to enjoy the sport of snowballing some of the old timers who would be passing the school yard. There were three men we could work into a fury namely, Duncan Douglas, who used to bring the wood to our school; William Henry Woolley, who used to be a local preacher, and Stafford Irish, my grandfather, who used to draw a milk route to Culloden. They would quite often threaten us with strong language about tanning our hides. Fortunately we were all good runners and managed never to let them come to close quarters. We all knew too well if we ever fell into their hands they would have given us “Man’s Law in Red Letters.”
Our last teacher, Miss Ford, came from Petrolia. She used to try to bring us up to be polite, by teaching us town manners. But I am sorry some of us sometimes were rude. Finally she gave it up as a case of hopelessness, and let us have very much our own way.
When I quit the school in April 1901, I had to settle down to hard work on the farm. But as I look back over my life, and happen to meet some of my old schoolmates, we cannot but admit to each other that our school days were the golden hours of our lives.
As I passed the old schoolyard the other day the only thing which looked familiar was the row of maple trees, some of them we helped to plant 50 years ago. The old cottage school and the church are both gone. The large elm tree which stood in the field next to schoolyard has been cut down. The fences have all been moved. Many of the old faces have passed away. Yes, Father Time has made a marked change. It seems more like a dream that a reality.
Sometimes in my reveries I have but to close my eyes to take flight backwards on the wheels of time to nearly half a century ago. It carries one to old Mt. Vernon once more. In fancy I can almost hear the mellow peals of the organ as we used to attend the Sunday School and church. I can seem to hear the hum drum of voices as we used to study our lessons during the school hours. For it was in that old country school house that some of us boys first met and learned to love our sweethearts. It was there that Destiny first interwove the threads of our lives in starting us out on our different careers in life. Sometimes in fancy I can still hear the shouts of the players at football, pull-away or prisoner’s base, as we played those games so long ago. I can almost conjure up those scenes until they become a reality once more. I can yet, almost hear my friend, George, whisper in my ear to keep cool, when he would always back me in those fierce ring fights in which I took an active part on Mt. Vernon’s greensward behind the schoolhouse nearly 50 years ago.”