BRANT COUNTY, ONTARIO TOWNSHIP HISTORIES
These Brant County, Ontario township histories have been transcribed by Bill Bowman from Warner and Beers History of Brant County 1883. They are being posted as Bill completes them. A big thank you to Bill for his hard work!
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By John Bingham, Senr., Esq. To write the history of a single township may to some appear a matter of small moment, while others would consider a record of the local events of the past very desirable. How are the many legends, names and memories which enshrine the deeds of our pioneer settlers and friends to be preserved but in such a history? Who is there that would not be pleased to look upon, or have his children examine, the pages of a book in which are recorded the events of his early days and the cherished associations of departed friends? And how should strangers settling in a township so readily obtain a knowledge of its affairs as through the medium of such local publication? Many historical facts of vital importance to our people are now living only in the memories of a few of our early settlers who are fast nearing the evening of life, whose race will soon be run; and after they have passed from among us, these facts will be buried in the oblivion of the past unless rescued now by the pages of history. The object, therefore, of the following pages is to preserve for the people of Onondaga Township a lasting record of these facts; and although the full importance of the step may not be realized by the most advanced in years of the present generation, their children and their children's children will yet fully appreciate the value of this work, which alone retains for them an account of the customs and early days of their ancestors, and the country they reclaimed from its primeval wilderness, over which the untamed Indian had for ages held dominion.
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The Indians It is by many supposed that the actual first owners of the land s now forming the Township of Onondaga were the Six Nations Indians, and if common justice had been done them such surmise would have been correct. The facts are, that at the close of the Revolutionary War an arrangement was entered into between the Mohawk Indians and the British Government by which the latter should have assigned to them a tract of land on the grand River (then called the Ouse, comprehending six miles on either side of the stream from the mouth to the source. This tract, which contains some of the most fertile land in the Province, was formally conveyed to them by an instrument under Governor Haldimand's hand an seal, in which it was stipulated that they should "possess and enjoy" it forever. The Indians, unversed in technicalities, supposed they had absolute and indefeasible estate in the lands, but they were sadly mistaken. Governor Haldimand's conveyance did not pass the fee, which could only be effected by a Crown patent under the Great Seal. It was a wrong to thus impose upon the too credulous Indian, and a poor reward for their loyalty and fidelity to the British Crown, in the momentous events which preceded; and it was not long in working its own evils, as succeeding events in this chapter will demonstrate.
It probably would not be amiss to relate here, that in the year 1833, the reservation was visited by Sir John Colborne, the Governor of Upper Canada, with the design of having a conference with the Indians. He was accompanied by Lady Colborne, his two sons and an A.D.C. The party were the guests of the Rev. Canon Nelles, of the Tuscarora Mission, and stayed with him over two nights. They came via Ancaster Village on horseback, having only the Indian trail to guide them through the wilderness. While here Governor Colborne called the chiefs of the Indians together, and held a council with them concerning their spiritual as well as temporal welfare, and on leaving presented them with $200 to assist them in erecting a saw-mill, of which more will be said hereafter.
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Onondaga Township took its name from the Onondaga tribe of the Six Nations, their principal settlement being in the eastern part of the township. Other tribes were located in various parts of the township and on its borders, among whom were the Oneidas. In the north-western end there was a settlement known as the Upper Cayugas, which extended into Brantford Township at Cainsville, where they had a village and burial place. The Mohawks were located in the River Bend, where they had some well tilled farms. Here the Wesleyan Methodists established a Mission Church and school in 1822, under the superintendence of Rev. Alvin Torrey. Along the banks of Fairchild's Creek, on the farms of Joseph Charlton and John Hartley, are the remains of what was known as Kick's Settlement. It was located on the old Whiting and River roads, where to-day can be seen the remains of some old orchards, and several chimney-places which belonged to their dwellings. An Indian burying-ground was also in the immediate vicinity. The territory between the mouth of fairchild's Creek and Middleport was occupied principally by the Tuscaroras. A Mission Church and school was established by the Church of England about a mile below Onondaga Village, under the charge of Rev. Robert Luggar, about 1827 0r 1828, and was uniformly maintained until about five years ago, when it was closed. The Onondagas were located further down the river, their settlement extending a mile below the Village of Caledonia, Haldimand County. They were chiefly pagan. The New England Company built a school house for them a little below the county line, but the pagan was too deeply inherent in the breast of the dusky dweller of the forest for either education or Christianity to obtain a foothold, and the school was comparatively a failure. These pagans had a place of worship on the Hagar farm, Middleport, where they were wont to indulge their peculiar customs. It was many years ago removed to the opposite side of the river, where every season after harvest may be seen the remains of their barbarous festival.
The Six Nations formerly held their councils in this township, in a building called the "long House," until the surrender of that part of the reservation; it was located on the farm now owned and occupied by Mrs. Mary Dee, daughter of Peter Smith, a prominent Indian in his day, and wife of F.O. Dee, near Middleport. Subsequently they for some time held their councils in a hall at Middleport, until a proper edifice for that purpose was built in the Tuscarora Reservation. The region along the Grand River shows indications of having been long the home of the Indian. Relics of great antiquity are frequently found on the reservation, and on various farms in the township. They comprise mainly old pipes, pottery and arrow-heads, many of which are in the possession of residents of the township. For a period of about ten years prior to 1841, the Indians experienced the full force of the iniquities the defective title to the lands they occupied entailed. When the whites began to encroach upon their domain, the Indians attempted to lease or sell the land to them, supposing their title to be absolute. But to this proceeding the Government objected upon the ground that the Crown had a pre-emptive right, and that the land belonged to the Indian only so long as they might choose to occupy it. This shameful state of affairs was not long in creeping through the brain of the deluded Indians; they at once saw their helplessness, and the only way out of their difficulties with the white settlers was to surrender the territory to the Government, which they did on the 18th of January, 1841. They then retired across the river to the Tuscarora Reservation, reserving however, 1700 acres in this township, of which mention is made elsewhere in this chapter.
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Description of the Township
Although the settlement of the county of brant dates back to the end of the eighteenth century, it was not until the exciting times of 1836 and 1837 that white people began to migrate to Onondaga Township. Previous to that period the township formed a portion of the Indian Reservation in the then Gore District. It is therefore the youngest member of the group of townships now forming the County of Brant, and its history is easily reached without researching beyond the elders of the present generation, some of whom were among the earliest settlers. With the exception of Oakland, it is the smallest township in the county, containing 22,282 acres of excellent farming land; the principal topographical feature being high and rolling. It is drained by Big, Little and Fairchild's Creeks, which intersect the township at various points, and crossing in a south-easterly direction, empty into the Grand River, which courses along the whole length of the township from west to east. The soil varies, but is principally clay interspersed, especially in the locality commonly known as the "Big Bend," on the grand River, and along fairchild's Creek, with a rich sandy loam. The quality of the soil is excellent, well adapted for raising all the staple cereals, more particularly wheat, and despite its paucity of years, is destined to make some of the finest farms in the county. The boundary lines of Onondaga are, on the east, Seneca Township, Haldimand County; northeast, Ancaster, Wentworth County; north, East Brantford; and west and south, the Grand River. The township is given a very picturesque appearance by the presence of the Grand River and the streams which flow into it, and the rolling and hilly quality of the land is attributable to the same. Along the river front the township is irregularly shaped, as is also the line dividing it from East Brantford, while the boundary lines between the township and Ancaster and Seneca are straight. The length of Onondaga is about thirteen miles, with an average breadth of about six miles. At a point near the Village of Onondaga, in a straight line to East Brantford, the township is only about two miles in width.
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Settlers began to arrive in the eastern part of the township, neat the Seneca line, and took up land under what was then known as Indian or squatter's rights. They at first met with considerable opposition from the Indians and their friends, aided and abetted by some of the authorities whose zeal was too much for their better judgment. Many of the so-called squatters were fined, some as high as thirty dollars; but, undaunted by these difficulties, settlers began to pour into the township in such numbers, that the Government considered it best in 1840 to make a treaty with the Indians for the surrender of all the lands comprised in the township, after which they had surveys made, and opened the territory for actual settlement. The claims of the whites were allowed, and the Township of Onondaga erected into a municipality. In a remarkably short time every lot was either purchased or occupied by white settlers, except seventeen lots along the river between the Village of Onondaga and Middleport. These lots were held in reservation for the Indians, and are calculated to comprise 1,700 acres. There are only five Indian families now residing on the lots in question, the remainder being occupied by white people as tenants.
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The first actual settlers to arrive were David Jones and his father, in 1836, they located near the Haldimand County line, and were followed immediately by Joseph Brown, who settled on the river front, and opened the first tavern in the township. In the following year came George and Thomas Brown, William Lamb and John Urie. The former is still living, and the latter, who was the father of John Urie, now residing on the original homestead, is dead. His aged widow is yet living on the home farm. James Ferris, John Patterson and Mr. Quinn came next, and located on the river front, and the same year, 1837, James Chapman and Thos. Conboy, Senr., settled some distance inland. About a year subsequent to the advent of settlers in the east, they began to flock into the western part of the township; and among the earliest arrivals was Arthur smith, who settled on Lots 3 and 4, river range. John Dickinson, another pioneer settler, located in the "River Bend," near the Salt Spring Church. William Burrell was also early in the township. He, as well as Mr. Dickinson, came from England and took up the farm on which his sons are now residing. He was a practical farmer, and soon made his farm first-class in every detail. His family have the well-deserved reputation of being excellent stock-raisers, and in this respect have set an example which has been extensively followed by his neighbours. The River Bend is noted for the fine quality of its farms and the superiority of its farmers as stock-raisers, chief among whom are the Hamiltons, Barracloughs, Birketts and Stocks.
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Having outlined the early settlement of both the eastern and western ends of the township, we now come to the centre, wherein the early arrivals were two brothers Howell, and Messrs. Burns, Dutton, Walker, James and Samuel Simpson, Joseph Matthews and Thomas Baker. To these old settlers- the fruits of whose labours we enjoy to-day, without thinking of the unremitting toil, and in many instances great privations, it cost them to clear and improve the land- may all praise be given. They had many difficulties to contend with but in the few years that have since elapsed they have made "the wilderness to blossom as the rose," and left behind them comfortable homesteads for the rising generation. James Simpson is the only one of them now living. Following closely in the wake of the more adventurous spirits, there came such a rush of settlers that it is at this day impossible to individualize; but 1837 and 1838 marked the date of the most considerable influx of the early pioneers.
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Before thus briefly disposing of the first settlers mention should be made of the late John Solomon Hagar, who figured prominently in Onondaga Township history previous to the formation of Brant County. His experiences were of a startling character, and of no little danger. He came in 1838, and located on lots 62 and 63, river range, at Middleport, having purchased his right from an Indian. It so happened that the identical property thus obtained had formerly been in the possession of the pagan Indians, and a portion had been made sacred from the practice of holding on it their annual feasts and ceremonies, and when these Indians discovered the land occupied by a white man, they became furious. failing to frighten Mr. Hagar, and thus induce him to relinquish possession of the holding, they attempted to drive him from it and not succeeding, resorted to violence and outrage. His family fled for their lives down the river in a canoe to his father-in-law's house, but the plucky pioneer remained to brave the storm. He was assaulted, seriously handled, and left for dead by his infuriated foes, but the latter failed to dislodge him, for we find that he subsequently obtained his patent- the first title in fee simple in the township- from the Government. Mr. Hagar entered an action at law against the Six Nations for damaged sustained at their hands, and obtained a judgment. He was never afterwards molested by the Indians, with whom he lived on terms of peace and amity to the day of his death.
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Always in the van of early settlement will be found the lumberman, and the first to commence operations was, we believe, James Little, who owned and operated a saw-mill at Caledonia. He got out mostly saw logs, which he floated down the river to his mill, but he subsequently completed and operated a mill which was partly erected by the Tuscarora Indians in 1833, and thus became the pioneer mill-owner in the township. Ronald McKinnon, another mill-owner at Caledonia, was next in the field, or rather forest, and also took large quantities of logs, representing at the present day enormous value, out of the township, which he manufactured into lumber at his mill in Caledonia. In the square oak and other timber for foreign markets, one Britton, from Kingston, Peter McKerricher, from Lower Canada, and Charles Smith of Cape Vincent, were the principal operators. McKerricher went more extensively into the business and continued long after the lands were purchased by the settlers. Prior to the lands being sold the Government granted licenses, for a stipulated sum, to the lumbermen, and applied the proceeds to the Indian Funds, but afterwards the operators paid "Stumpage" to the settlers for permission to cut timber. The township was stripped of all its best timber by these spoilers, and as none but the best and cleanest pine and oak were taken, large quantities of what would be to-day valuable timber was left to dry, decay or be burned by the farmers.
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It seems, in the natural course of events, that immediately in the track of the earliest pioneer comes the dispenser of hospitality and- whiskey. There had scarcely been a score of settlers in the township when a tavern was erected on the River road, at the conference of Big creek and the Grand River. It was a small log building, kept by Joseph Brown, and later on by members of his family. the Original edifice can still be seen as you pass along the River Road. As appears to be the case in all new settlements, the drinking custom has many votaries, and he who deals in the liquid that not only cheers but inebriates generally sustains a hearty support from the hardy pioneer. Onondaga was no exception to the rule, for we find that even in its earliest youth there was no lack of taverns within its borders. A short distance west of Brown's was another tavern. It was also a log building, built in 1838 by George May, chiefly to accommodate the lumbermen, and here it was that the first township meetings were held. The old building still stands on the farm now owned by Samuel Ferris. Another hostelry was established further up the River Road, at what is now the Village of Middleport, by Charles Baldwin. It became a favourite resort for the Indians and lumbermen, and in it a flourishing traffic was carried on. Near Onondaga Village was another house of public entertainment, where liquors were dealt out for an equivalent in current coin or produce. About the year 1845 David Smith embarked in the grocery business in Onondaga Village. He likewise kept, as an adjunct to his business, a liquor saloon, with a bowling alley attached, and drove a thriving trade. In the year 1838 Captain Murray opened a general store in the neighbourhood of May's tavern, River Road. When Captain Murray arrived at the location of his business operations, there was of course no building in which to store his merchandise, and he promptly organized one of those festive occasions in which the settler delights, known as a "bee," and in a single day his shop was erected- a performance in those days which is well worthy of note. At Middleport Arthur Smith had a general store, which for a time was under the management of George Yonell, who subsequently became the proprietor, and about 1845 Robert Soules opened a similar store at Onondaga, where he also built a grain warehouse on the river bank. The latter afterwards received the appointment of Postmaster of Onondaga.
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ORGANIZATION OF THE TOWNSHIP
Prior to 1851 Onondaga Township belonged to the County of Wentworth, then a portion of the old Gore District, and until 1842 it had not even the form of a municipal government. The settlers were without roads, using only Indian trails, and were obliged to drag their flour into the settlements on sledges, or carry it on their backs from the nearest grist-mill, distant from seven to ten miles. But this state of affairs, was not permitted to continue long. On the first Monday in January, 1842, at a meeting held at May's tavern, Peter McKerricher was chosen to represent the township at the County Council, which held its sittings at Hamilton; pathmasters, assessor and collector were appointed, and a semblance of municipal organization established. Thomas Conboy, Senr., Esq., was the assessor, and Frank Walker, Senr., the collector, selected at this meeting. Mr. McKerricher continued to represent the township for, we believe four years, when he was succeeded by George May, who two years later was in turn succeeded by John Solomon Hagar. The latter continued in office until municipal institutions were established, and Onondaga Township merged into the County of Brant.
The new order of events in the destinies of this township took place in 1853, when the first Township Council was elected. The municipality was then called the "United Townships of Onondaga and Tuscarora;" but so soon as the Indian Land Reservation was definitely settled, it lapsed into Onondaga Township only. The names of the first Councillors were: George Yonell, W. N. Alger, George May, Peter McKerricher and William Oliver. Mr. Yonell was chosen Reeve, which at that time period was done by the Council at their first meeting. The present custom of electing the Reeve by popular vote was adopted at a more modern era. We find among the rules that were made for the guidance of the first Council of this township, one which commands " that no Councillor shall speak disrespectfully of the Queen, or any of the Royal Family, or person administering the government of this Province; nor shall he use unmannerly or indecent language against the proceedings of this Council, or against particular Councillors," &c.
The township will now compare favourably with any in the march of progress and agricultural resources. The wilderness has given place to smiling fields, and what a few short years ago was a dense forest, peopled only by wild animals and Indians, now contains a numerous population excellent farms, fertile meadows, and splendid homesteads. Its finances are well managed, its public buildings are excellent, its schools and churches flourishing, and its people prosperous and contented.
In 1840 the first census was taken by Thomas Conboy, Senr., Esq. The number of white people were at that date 150. In 1850 the census returns showed a population of 1,657; in 1861, there were 2,066; in 1871, 1,924; and in 1881, 1,739. We have been unable to discover the causes of the decrease from 1861, but presume they are susceptible of satisfactory explanation.
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COURTS AND OFFICIALS
In 1853, upon the establishing of municipal institutions, the appointment of Magistrates or Justices of the Peace was made in the presence of Thomas Conboy, Sr., and Abraham Hawley. The next appointment was in 1857, when the following gentlemen were made J.P.'s: Thomas Armour, Samuel Nevins, Richard Herdsman, James Graham and Matthew Whiting. Following these, in 1879 John Hamilton, James Grant, William Dixon, Samuel Simpson, William Walker, Benjamin Squires and Thomas Oliver, were thus honoured.
The following are the names of the Councillors for this municipality for the present year: Alexander Douglas, Esq., Reeve, and John Barraclough, John Hamilton, J. P., Frederick Dixon, and Joseph Painter, Councillors. The Council sits alternately at Onondaga Village and Middleport. The following are the present township officers: S. J. McKelvey, Clerk; John Henderson, Treasurer; Bradshaw McMurray, Assessor; and James Graham, Collector.
On the organization of the county, Stephen James Jones, Esq., of the City of Hamilton, then a barrister in the office of S. B. Freeman, Esq., Q.C., was appointed Judge of the County Court of Brant, and in 1853 established the various Division Courts of the County, that for this township being No. 6, and he appointed Thomas Butler, Clerk, and Elisha B. Huffman, Bailiff. They resigned in 1855, and Wm. McGruer was appointed Clerk, and John W. Butler, Bailiff, in their stead. On the 26th September, 1856, Robert Wade was Clerk, and James Spencer, Bailiff; 1857, Wm. H. McKinney, Bailiff; 1858, Nathaniel Marlatt, Bailiff, who continued till 1865. On July 20th, 1863, upon the death of Robert Wade, Matthew Whiting, Esq., was appointed Clerk, and 1865, John Schofield, received the appointment of Bailiff. In 1870, Matthew Whiting resigned and W. S. Buckwell was appointed in his stead, with H. H. VanSickle as Bailiff. Mr. Schofield left the county, H. H. VanSickle resigned the same year, and Matthew Day, the present Bailiff, succeeded him. Mr. Buckwell was removed in 1874, and was succeeded by John Henderson, who still holds the office. In 1880, when the Provincial Government assumed the privilege of appointing clerks and bailiffs under the Division Court Act, Messrs. Henderson and Day were confirmed in their official positions.
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Schools and School Houses
The first school house built within the limits of this township was an old-fashioned log edifice, situated on the farm of henry Gilmore, Lot 24, 2nd con. Its first teacher was William Shannon, who remained a short time, and was succeeded by Terrence Jones. The latter now resides in Brantford. Within a few years after it was built it was burned, and another seat of learning was erected on Lot 70, river range, which is still used for this purpose. For a few years after settlement began in the township there was a great want of the means of education. The inhabitants being obliged to hire their teachers, and the country being new, they felt unable to take that interest in the education of their children they would have done had they been better circumstanced, or had they been blessed at that time with our present excellent school system. Any further reference to the early disadvantages of schooling seems unnecessary, but for the information of the reader, it may be well to say that even very good teachers in those days were willing to accept a salary of twelve dollars a month and board round among the people, the amount of board being regulated by the number of pupils each family sent to school. How different now are our facilities for schooling. There are now in this township six school sections and three excellent school houses, the one in the Village of Onondaga, built in 1874, being an ornament to any township. It cost something over three thousand dollars, and is capable of seating fully tow hundred pupils. There is also a fine house and well kept school in the western part of the township on Lot 14, river range, Section No. 6, which has produced some good scholars; and another good school house situated on the farm of robert Mulligan, Lot 19, 2nd concession, section No. 3, has also turned out some excellent scholars. In school section No. 2, there is an efficient school kept in a building erected some years ago, being in close proximity to the Village of Middleport; there attendance is large, the teachers are well selected, and the advancement of the pupils rapid. The building first erected for a school house in section No. 4 is still used for school purposes, and the number of pupils in attendance not being numerous, the school is generally taught by a young lady. Some very efficient graduates of this school enter upon the duties of after life. the school in section No. 1 is a Union School, and is situated on the Seneca side of the township line. It has the reputation of being under excellent management.
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MILLS AND MILLING INTERESTS
The first mill in this township was a saw-mill erected on Lot 11, in the 2nd concession, having been commenced in 1834 by the Indians, who built a dam on Big Creek and erected a frame for the mill; but although they received aid from the Governor Sir John Colborne to the extent of two hundred dollars, they were unable to complete it. James Little subsequently obtained possession of the mill, put it in operation about the year 1838, and after working it at a loss for some time, removed the machinery and abandoned the building. Richard Harris, Esq., now owns the farm on which this old mill formerly stood, where traces of the dam are still to be seen. The next mill, also a saw-mill, was built on Fairchild's Creek by the late Rev. Hamilton Biggar and William Howell, Esq., on the farm now owned by William Howell, son of the latter. It was erected in the year 1839, has since been rebuilt, and is still running. It has undergone but little if any modern improvements. This mill is a water-power and has a Muley saw, with an average capacity of about 50,000 feet of lumber per month. It might be well here to remark that as the supply of timber is becoming exhausted, this would be a capital site for a manufactory requiring an excellent water-power. A saw-mill erected in the rear of Middleport on Big Creek, and called "Glen Airn," has been three times rebuilt. When first put up it was a water-mill, erected about the year 1841 or 1842, and after being in use for a short time was changed to steam power, there not being at that time sufficient water-power to manufacture lumber with any degree of profit. It has since been again converted into a water-mill. This mill was originally built by George Yonell, as was also the present Glen Airn Mill, which Mr. Yonell sold to James M. Arthur, who operated it for a number of years, when John Logan purchased, and owns it at the present time. The timber in its immediate neighbourhood is getting scarce, and its removal is contemplated in a short time. There were also two steam saw-mills in Onondaga Village (both having been burned down), one of which was erected by John Merrill, and owned at the time of its destruction by Henry Fryer. These mills were never rebuilt. A steam saw-mill was erected on the farm of the late Joseph Mathews in the New England settlement some years ago by Thomas Bigham. Afterwards this mill was owned by Henry Yardington, of Brantford, when it too was destroyed by fire, and was never rebuilt. The only saw-mills now existing in this township are Howell's and Logan's.
There were never more than tow grist-mills in this township, and these were run by steam-power. A mill was at first erected below the banks at the edge of the Grand River in the Village of Onondaga. The building was calculated when built for either a storehouse or factory, and was erected by John Merrill, who sold it in 1868 to Benjamin Squires, who utilized it for milling purposes. About twelve years ago he removed the machinery to a brick building, which he greatly improved and converted into a grist-mill. The other building was also erected for a factory, but was never used until utilized for its present purpose. Mr. Squires, realizing the value of his milling interest in the township, went to a large expense in improving and refitting his new mill, and made it nor only a great benefit but an actual necessity to the township and the community at large. This mill has three run of stones, tow for flouring and one for chopping grain for feeding purposes. The engine is a thirty horse-power, and is capable of grinding five hundred bushels of wheat, and the same amount of coarse grain for feed, per week. The mill is now owned and has been operated for the last three years by Messrs. Dexter & Foulds.
Wm. Douglas has for some time been engaged in the business of raising improved stock, each year adding to their improvement and increasing their number and value. His animals generally are high bred Durhams and improved Liecester sheep. There are others in the township who have improved their stock, but have not gone extensively into the business.
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Owing to the Indian Reservation being on the south side of the Grand River, there are no bridges in this township spanning that stream, consequently the people have recourse to a system of ferries as a means of crossing. these ferries are located at various points along the river, the boats or scows used having greatly varied in the manner of their construction or means of propulsion since they were fist established. Each ferry is capable of carrying two teams and vehicles, and is propelled by an endless chain, which is attached by a windlass and crank to the boat and worked by hand. They are clumsy affairs at best, and the wonder is that they answer their purpose as well as they appear to do, or that they are a safe means by which to cross so wide and deep a stream as the Grand River. Still there have been no accidents that have come to our knowledge, and until some calamity or loss of life occurs, it is not customary in these days to condemn such a system, however fraught with danger it may appear. The ferries, however, are a matter of necessity, if not of choice, as the township is not able to keep up expensive bridges for the accommodation of those who reside upon or visit the reservation; and thus far the ferries have answered the purpose with tolerable satisfaction. Beginning at the west end of the township, the first ferry is located at Newport, and is owned and operated by Stephen Tomlinson. The second is the old Henderson Ferry, and is operated by Wm. Hamilton, the owner. At Onondaga Village the third ferry crosses, George Butler owning and working it. About midway between Onondaga and middleport is what is known as the Waterford Road ferry; it was established and run by James D. Spencer, of Onondaga Village, who subsequently sold it; Samson Thomas now has the management of the ferry at this point. The last ferry is at Middleport, and is under the skilful manipulation of its owner, George Levine. The fare charged is a uniform rate of fifteen cents for vehicles only. Pedestrians can cross only when there is a team on board, there being no fare charged for them. By this it will be seen that anyone wishing to visit the reservation will find it a matter of economy to go on foot. When the ice forms on the river in winter the ferries are drawn out. It is much more convenient for teams to cross the river on the ice, consequently it has not been found necessary to place these ferries on runners to be used as iceboats.
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MISSIONS AND CHURCHES
During the year 1822, the Methodist Missionary Society of the Methodist Church in Canada, seeing the necessity of looking to the spiritual welfare of the Indians, conceived the idea of establishing an Indian Mission for the Province, and appointed the Rev. Alvin Torrey as Missionary on the Grand River. His field of labour extended from the mouth of the river to above Brant's Ford, and he made one of his appointments at the Salt Springs in the "River Bend." His labour having been successful, and having secured the conversion and support of such Indian chiefs as James Givens, Jacob Isaac, John Dockstader and others, the mission became permanently established in this county. A society was soon formed, with Chief Givens as the Indian class leader. The next year, 1823, Mr. Torrey had as an assistant the Rev. Mr. Crawford, and built a log structure which was used for school purposes as well as a place of worship, until the year 1830, when what was known as the Salt Springs Mission Church was built. The Indians did the principal work of getting out the timber, framing and raising the building, supplies not on hand being furnished from the funds of the Missionary Society. It is said, and believed to be true, that the Rev. Wm. Ryerson was the first resident missionary at the mission. The Indians gave about 64 acres of land, which was called the Mission Lot, for the parsonage, and also partially maintained the resident missionary. This lot is now owned by the son of the Rev. Mr. Ryerson, and remains in the same peculiar shape it was when given by the Indians. The church has attached to it an acre of land for a cemetery, which has been extensively utilized for burial purposes by Indians and white people. In the year 1859 the Methodists began to make preparations to build a new church, which they finished and dedicated to Divine worship in 1860, and which has been used for that purpose ever since. The Indians have removed their mission to the reservation on the opposite side of the river, where they have a church at present under the pastoral charge of the Rev. Wm. Cross. The Salt Springs Church is now attached to the Cainsville Circuit. Its present pastors are the Revs. Charles Stringfellow and J. Little, and the class leader is Miles Birkett; its recording Steward being Wm. Burrell. This church has now a membership of 25. There formerly was a larger membership, but deaths and removals have been the principal cause of its decadence.
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MISSIONS AND CHURCHES A Methodist Church was built on Lot 8, 2nd concession, now owned by Wm. Taws, but formerly by henry Fryer, Esq., by whose instrumentality it was erected; but after a fine church was erected in the Village of Onondaga it came into disuse, chiefly through the demise of the old members, and the young members joining the Onondaga congregation.
There was a log church built on the farm of Geo. Lincoln, on the east side of Fairchild's Creek, near the Howell Mill, a number of years ago, which was used for many years as a place of worship. It also has been abandoned, its members at present being united with the congregation at Onondaga Village. A cemetery at the place is still used as a burying-ground by people who formerly had their friends buried there.
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MISSIONS AND CHURCHES
The Methodist Church art Onondaga Village was erected during the years 1857 and 1858. It is a frame building erected at a cost of over $1,225, principally by funds borrowed from the conference of the then Wesleyan Methodists in Canada. On the 25th of February, 1857, a meeting was called at the house of Henry Myers, Esq., for the purpose of forming a committee for the erection of the church, at which it was "moved by Mr. Myers, and seconded by Thomas Baker, that the following be a committee for building arrangements, viz.: Henry Myers, Sandford Whiting, George Whitefield Howell, David Sharp, Thos. Baker, John Galbraith and Henry Fryer, with G. W. Howell as Secretary, and Henry Myers, Treasurer." It was then "moved by Mr. Myers, and seconded by John Galbraith, that the church be 46 feet long and 32 feet in width." The Committee of Management authorized G. W. Howell to superintend the work according to a plan furnished by david Leonard, architect, and the building was completed. In January, 1868, the church was freed from debt, and in 1876 the Rev. W. W. Shepherd conceived the idea of its removal from where it formerly stood to its present beautiful situation on the bank of the river, the ground being given by Benjamin Squires, who took an active part in its improvement and enlargement. This present structure is an excellent frame church, well finished, and together with the land and sheds, is valued at about $3,000. The society is now free from debt. Its present pastors are the Revs. Charles Stringfellow and James Little; class leader, Samuel Deagle; Church Steward, William Howell. The members in connection number about 25, with a considerable number of families as adherents. There is an excellent Sabbath school in connection with the congregation, having about 35 pupils, under the superintendence of Elijah Harrison.
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MISSIONS AND CHURCHES
The first Christian congregation of Indians which assembled under the auspices of the Church of England in this township, was called together under the pastoral charge of the Rev. Robert Luggar, who resided at brantford in the year 1828, and was visited occasionally by Mr. Luggar, until the year 1829, when the Rev. Abram Nelles assumed the charge of the Tuscarora Mission. The Reverend (now Archdeacon) A. Nelles lived for some years on one of the New England Company's mission lots lying between Onondaga and Middleport, where was erected by that company a log school house, with a rectory attached, for the accommodation of the resident missionary and teacher. Services were for the time held in this school house, and continued until the year 1837, when the present church was built. When the church was commenced the Indians aided with willingness, and some being clever workmen, the edifice was soon completed. the New England Company furnished what funds and material the Indians could not procure themselves. The church was completed in 1837, and about this time Mr. Nelles was stationed at the Mohawk Mission, residing at Brantford. This reverend gentleman, who is now an archdeacon, has for fifty years laboured as chief missionary to the Six Nations Indians, but is now resting from a life of good works in the cause of Christianity, and is still living in Brantford, hale and hearty, at the age of seventy-seven years. He was succeeded at the Tuscarora Mission Church by the Rev. Adam Elliott, who remained until his death, which occurred June 3rd, 1878. The church was then closed, the Indians having allied themselves to congregations on the Tuscarora side of the river. For some time previous to his death, the Rev. Mr. Elliott, who had been in failing health, had associated with him the Rev. Albert Anthony, a native Indian of the Delaware tribe, who is now pastor of the lower Mohawk Church in Tuscarora Township. Mr. and Mrs. Elliott will always be held in grateful remembrance by the people of this locality for their many acts of benevolence and charity as neither could feel satisfied with seeing the needy unsupplied. Mrs. Elliott is still living, and her house is the home of charity and benevolence, her labours even extending outside of the mission. She is the main support of her husband's church at Middleport, having liberally aided in its completion and subsequent adornment. there is a burial place in the grounds of the Tuscarora Mission Church in which a great many Indians have found a sepulchre. It is extensively used.
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MISSIONS AND CHURCHES
Holy Trinity Church, Onondaga, a gothic structure of red brick, was built in 1857, and has since had added to it a beautiful tower and bell. This church has a cemetery in connection with it, and is free from debt. In the chancel of this church a beautiful stained glass memorial window, the gift of the late Rev. Adam Elliott, has been placed in loving remembrance of his children. The site for Trinity Church was given by Chief Geo. H. M. Johnson and David Leonard had the contract for its erection. The Building Committee were Revs. Abram Nelles and Adam Elliott, Dr. Dee, and Messrs. Richard Herdsman, Robt. Griffith and W. S. Buckwell. The Rev. Frederick Grant was the first incumbent of the pastorate. After the building of the tower for the bell, the church was consecrated in 1876, and the society is still free from debt. Its present pastor is the Rev. John Ridley, and in connection there are about twenty-four families, numbering one hundred and twenty people, including fifty enrolled communicants. Walter Schofield and George Simpson are Church-wardens.
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MISSIONS AND CHURCHES
St. Paul's Church, Middleport, was erected during the year 1868, on an eligible plot of ground, the gift of Robert Wade, Esq. It is a neat frame building with tower and bell, its value being $1,500. The society is free from debt. There is a beautiful cemetery attached to this church, in which stands a handsome monument, erected to the memory of its patron, Robert Wade. The beautiful memorial window in the chancel was the joint gift of Robert Racey and Rev. Adam Elliott. It was erected im memory of the latter's nephew and niece. The side and north windows were the gift of Mr. Cooper, of the Village of Mount Pleasant. In connection with this church there are about twenty families, numbering nearly ninety-five people, including forty enrolled communicants. The present incumbent of the pastorate is the Rev. John Ridley. The Church-wardens are richard Cockrell and Adam Mitchell.
A short time after the township was first settled, the Rev. B. Hill, a Church od England missionary on the Grand River, found the need of religious services in the settlement, and preached to the people in their private dwellings. People of all denominations flocked to hear him, so anxious were they to hear the Gospel expounded. Mr. Hill was, it is believed, the first minister who preached to the settlers of this township.
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MISSIONS AND CHURCHES
As there were a number of Presbyterians in the lower end of the township, the Rev. Dr. Ferrier, of Caledonia, held services in the people's houses; he was the second minister in the township.
Before the Indians all removed from this township, the Rev. W. H. Landon, a minister of the regular Baptist Church, came to the Grand River for the purpose of establishing a mission among the Indians, and also to secure a home for himself. He settled on Lot 52 river range, and built a house in which he resided for several years, at the same time labouring for the spiritual welfare of the Indians on both sides of the river. He appears to have been very successful, for we find such men as Revs. B. H. Carrier, Jas. N. Cusick, Joseph Longfish, and Seth Claus, all native Indians, as the fruits of his labour. Elder Landon commenced his mission labours about 1843 or 1844, and therefore lays claim to being the first to form a Baptist Church in this township. The farm on which he settled was resurrendered to the Indians, and is now owned and occupied by Isaac Davis, an Indian.
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MISSIONS AND CHURCHES
The First Baptist Church, Onondaga, was organized in the year 1855, through the instrumentality of Jas. L. Davidson, D.D., and a preliminary meeting was held for that purpose the 6th of April (Good Friday) of the same year. Rev. John Moxon, of Binbrook, opened the proceedings with prayer, and was followed by the Rev. Dr. Davidson, of Brantford. There were present at this meeting Revs. Joseph Painter and Benjamin H. Carrier, thomas Chave, Martha Painter, Elizabeth Carrier, Elizabeth Chave, and Hannah Lindsay. The visiting brethren were Rev. Anthony Scott, agent of the Baptist Missionary Society of Canada, and thomas Bigham, of Binbrook. Elder Benjamin H. Carrier was appointed Clerk. At a meeting held in the village school house on the next day, Samuel Simpson, Caroline Simpson, Richard Southwell, Catharine Southwell, Sarah A. Mitchell, Elizabeth Kirkby, Susan Mattice, Ellen Labin and Sarah Painter, presented themselves for the ordinance of baptism, and on the following day were baptized by the Rev. Dr. Davidson. They were therefore the first new members after the church was organized. The society numbered at that time sixteen members. After the organization of the church Rev. B. H. Carrier was called to be its pastor (1855), continuing to occupy that position until the year 1857, when he removed to Tuscarora. The regular meetings of the church were held in the school house until 1858, when a chapel was erected and dedicated to the worship of god by Revs. Joseph Painter and B. H. Carrier, as the First Baptist Church of Onondaga. Mrs. Caroline Simpson and Sarah Painter, now the wife of Matthew Whiting, Esq., are the only persons living in this county who were among its first members. The church has been since refitted and improved, with commodious sheds attached. It has the Rev. Nathaniel Richards for its present pastor, and a membership of about sixty communicants. An excellent Sabbath school is conducted in connection with the church.
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MISSIONS AND CHURCHES
The Second baptist Church of Onondaga Township, before its reorganization, was in connection and under the superintendence of the regular baptist Church in Binbrook, Wentworth County, and prior to 1857 was visited by Elder Wm. Hooper, who was then living in this township, Deacon Alfred Bingham of Glanford, and Rev. Job Moxom, of the Binbrook Church. They held meetings at the residences of brethren, and also in the school house at the Mulligan Settlement, converting many to Christ. In 1854 Elder Hooper, having the interest of his church at heart, succeeded in building a chapel for regular worship on Lot 19, 1st concession, on the farm of William Mulligan, for which he afterwards was paid by the members and friends of church enterprise. A meeting was called on the 13th of June, 1857, for the organization of the society. In July 1st of the same year it became an established church. There were, previous to and at the time of this church organization in this township, the following regular Baptist brethren and sisters: Elder Wm. Hooper, Christina Hooper, Elizabeth Hooper, David Jones, Elizabeth Jones, John Hicks, Harriet Hicks, John Boylan, Ann Elizabeth Creighton, Frederick Ricker, Eleanor Ricker, Catharine Ricker, John Cowie, Isabella Cowie, Mary Hooper, John Peddie (now the Rev. Dr. Peddie) John McConichie, Catherine Mulligan, Margaret Mulligan, Richard Mulligan and Robert Mulligan, all of whom became members of the Second Baptist Church after its reorganization, and with others making a total membership at that time of fifty-seven communicants. Elder Job Moxom was also largely instrumental in the formation of this society. Rev. N. Richards is its present pastor, and the members of the church in good standing now number seventy-seven.
Elder William Hooper was born in England, and emigrated to this country in 1838, and to this township in 1839. He resided a short time in hamilton, where he subsequently received his ordination. Mr. Hooper died in the Township of Oneida, County Haldimand, on the 29th March, 1876, in the 74th year of his age, and in the triumph of his faith, beloved by all for his good works. He is buried in the cemetery attached to the church he was instrumental in building.
John Peddie, one of the first members of the Second Baptist church, was a native of this township; entered the ministry, and is now a Doctor of Divinity, and has the pastorate of one of the most influential Baptist churches in New York City.
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MISSIONS AND CHURCHES
The Methodist Episcopal denomination has erected in this township two churches, one in Onondaga Village and a second at Middleport; as their ministers are non-resident, and their records have not been reached, it is impossible to give their adherents the history to which their position entitles them.
The church at Onondaga was erected a number of years ago, but we are unable to give any information concerning its inception or progress owing to causes above stated. It is a substantial frame building, capable of seating, we should judge, about two hundred and fifty people.
The church at Middleport was built during the year 1864, principally by the contributions of the members and friends of the connection. At the time the church was built the Revs. Messrs. Benson and Williamson were pastors, and took an active part in its erection, assisting in the work and doing the painting. Their zeal in undertaking this church inspired the members to the work, and materially reduced its cost to the society. Mr. Henry Minor, the class leader, also took an active part in the formation and construction of the church, as well as members of the Hagar family. The members then were Henry Minor and wife, Silas Blanchard and wife, Dennis L. Dennis and wife, and Mrs. Ellen Deagle, wife of D. Deagle, deceased. At the present time Rev. O. G. Colomere is pastor; Joseph Bressette and Charles Hagar, class leaders; Jacob Poss, Church Steward. There are twenty-seven members on its class book.
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Onondaga is the principal town of this township. About the year 1842, when the lumbering enterprise was at its height in this township, David Smith emigrated from Jerseyville, Wentworth County, and settled at the site of what is now called the Village of Onondaga. He engaged in the grocery business, and also kept a liquor store or saloon, where he dispensed his commodities to the lumbermen and Indians. Not long after this, a log tavern was erected on the farm now owned by Geo. Douglass, and in 1849, the late William Soules opened a general store, which was a decided acquisition to the place. In 1851 Mr. Soules was appointed Postmaster, and thus the second post office was established in the township. The village had heretofore been known as Smith's Corners, but on the opening of the post office the name was changed to Onondaga. About this time John Merrill erected a steam saw-mill in the village, and shortly after another was erected at the mouth of Fairchild's Creek, both of which were destroyed by fire a number of years ago. The mills were never rebuilt, and the future prospects of the village sustained a severe blow in their loss; together with the decadence of the lumbering interests throughout the township; for upon these it was that the progress and development of Onondaga mainly depended. The Village never recovered from these disasters, and although it still retains its early reputation for thrift and enterprise, it has not increased to any appreciable extent for a number of years past. In 1857, Matthew Whiting opened a general store, an enterprise which he carried on successfully for a number of years, but he subsequently sold out the business, and the store is now in the hands of W. F. Buke. H. H. VanSickle also kept a well stocked general store in the village, which is at present owned by the efficient Postmistress, Mrs. W. S. Buckwell. Besides these, the village now contains four churches- Canada Methodist, Episcopal, Baptist and Episcopal Methodist- a fine brick school house, erected in 1874; a Township Hall, built of brick in 1875 at a cost of over $3,000; cabinet and joiner shop, two blacksmith shops, carriage and waggon shop, two excellent hotels, and a steam grist-mill. The village being situated on a bend if the Grand River, A ferry is established here for the convenience of those crossing to the Indian Reservation. The population is 200. The Grand Trunk Railway passes through the north end of the village where the station is located. The Buffalo, Brantford and Goderich Railway Company, who projected and constructed the line, purchased five acres of land for the station yard upon which it was intended to erect workshops, but they were never enabled to carry out their intentions. Robert Wallace is the present station agent and is deservedly popular.
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The Village of Middleport is also situated on a slight bend of the river three miles below Onondaga; It was founded by John Solomon Hagar, of whom mention is made elsewhere in this chapter. The next settler in the village of whom we have any record was Charles Baldwin, who kept a grocery and liquor saloon; following him came Arthur Smith (who opened a general store prior to 1845) and George Yonell, who subsequently succeeded to the business. The first tavern in the village was under the proprietorship of - Dutton, succeeded by H. G. Riddell, and a second kept by James Sheppard, eventually became the property of Thomas Young. David Dennis was also a popular Boniface in the early days of Middleport, but his house, as well as those preceding it, was in course of time destroyed by fire.
John W. Butler afterwards built a good hotel in the village, which has always been well kept, and is popular with travellers and the public. He was succeeded in the winter of 1882 by Samuel Arrell. Middleport is beautifully situated on elevated ground, commanding a fine view of the river and surrounding country. It took its name from the circumstance of its location being midway between "the locks" near brantford and the Village of Caledonia. In its palmy days it was an important port of the Grand river Navigation Company's lock and river system. Large quantities of timber were shipped from here, which gave the place a brisk, business-like appearance, but with the decline of the Navigation Company's fortunes, and the exhaustion of the timber in the vicinity, the prosperity of the village was checked. It still holds its position, however, as a centre of trade for the farming community, and contains two good general stores, two blacksmith shops, a waggon and carriage shop, bakery, hotel, two churches- St. Paul's Episcopal and Episcopal Methodist- a public hall, and about twenty dwellings, with a population of 100 souls. The first post office in the township was established here, and named Tuscarora, with Robert Wade Postmaster. The present Postmaster is S. J. McKelvey, who is also Township Clerk. A ferry is located at this point, which is extensively utilized by people who cross the river to and from the Indian Reservation opposite. Middleport is a flag station on the Grand trunk Railway, which passes to the rear of the village, about three quarters of a mile distant.
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INCIDENTS AND CASUALTIES
At the period when this township began to be settled, those who desired to make a matrimonial alliance could after procuring a license, have their wish fulfilled by a clergyman; but if no such person resided within a radius of twenty miles of the domicile of either contracting parties, the contract could be made by engaging the services of a Justice of the Peace. An incident illustrative of the difficulties and hardships engendered by such a law is related of one of our best pioneer families. The gentleman referred to, with his intended bride and best man, in 1838 went on foot to the Town of Hamilton, a distance of fourteen miles, to have their marriage performed by the "nearest clergyman," returning by the same means of conveyance. Such was the indomitable spirit of our forefathers, that we are told they patiently submitted to the ordeal, and were more genuinely happy over the event than are many of the people of to-day who have no such hardships to undergo. How many beaux and belles of the present day would undergo a like experience for the sake of wedded bliss! The hero of this pedestrian and matrimonial adventure lived in the eastern part of the township, near the Seneca line. The hardships endured by the early pioneers were legion, but we give only one by way of comparison with the conveniences and comforts enjoyed by the present generation. There being no roads to the settlements, the only means of ingress and egress was by the Indian trails through the forest; and one of our prominent citizens relates that he has on several occasions carried a bushel of wheat on his back to the Village of Seneca, seven miles distant, and returned with the product in the same manner. He is still living on the identical homestead he reclaimed from the "forest wild." Illustrating the ludicrous side of the early settler's experiences, it is said that in the eastern part of the township, on an occasion when Divine service was being held in a school house, a sudden rush of wind wafted out the light, which consisted of a single tallow candle. Consternation seized the assemblage, owing to the fact that matches were made in heaven only in those days, and there was apparently no means of relighting the extinguished "glim." The ubiquitous smoker, however, was present, and he came to their relief with his flint, steel and punk, and in a twinkling converted darkness into light. In those primitive days there were no churches in which to worship, consequently assemblages of the settlers and their families were held in school houses and private dwellings.
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Accidents by "flood and field," but few in number, have come to our knowledge, but as these sad events will occur in the best regulated localities, we give such of them as we have received from authentic sources. Probably the most melancholy occurrence of the kind that ever took place in the township was the drowning of Miss Ann Riach, in January, 1843. The unfortunate young lady, who was a daughter of Geo. Riach, one of the pioneer settlers then living on the Haldimand County line, and sister of Mrs. John Urie, was twenty-two years of age, and had only recently returned home from Hamilton, where she had for a time been living. She was engaged to be married in a short time, and her return home was preparatory to that event, which added poignantly to the sadness of her death. It appears that she went at night to draw water from a deep well near the house, and not returning after a lapse of some time, search was made and her body discovered in the well. The well was curbed with a square boxing, and it is surmised that in attempting to draw a bucket of water, which was done by means of the old-fashioned wooden hook, she slipped on the ice that had formed about the curb, and losing her footing, plunged headlong to her death. The circumstances attending the sad event cast a gloom over the whole community, in which the young lady was beloved and esteemed.
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Another drowning accident occurred in 1858, under the railway bridge spanning Fairchild's Creek at Howell's Mill Pond. The victim of this melancholy event was a young man named Hamilton. It appears that he, in company with a number of other young men, went to the place mentioned to bathe, but the cause of the accident has never been ascertained. he was not missed until his companions had dressed and were on the point of leaving the spot, when his clothing was noticed still lying on the bank of the stream. Search was at once made and his body found in the water under the bridge, but the vital spark had fled. The young man, who was respected by all his fellows, was a brother of John and Robert Hamilton, farmers, who still reside in the township. Still another of a similar nature occurred in 1871, about half a mile further up the same stream, by which a young man named John Harrold lost his life. He had been engaged during the day sheep-washing at the point mentioned, and it seems, for the sake of diversion, attempted t swim to the opposite bank. Being an excellent swimmer, the circumstances of his drowning is accounted for only by the supposition that he was seized with cramp, and the water being from eight to ten feet deep, he sank to his doom. The unfortunate young man was a brother of Samuel Harrold, grain merchant, Brantford, and bore a good reputation.
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A number of years ago Thomas Gilmore was found drowned in the Grand River. The circumstances of his death are shrouded in mystery, but his family to this day suppose his death was the result of foul play. The unfortunate man was missed for several days, when search was instituted, and his body found a short distance below Middleport. He was one of the pioneers of the township, the owner of an excellent farm, and much respected by his neighbours.
About five years ago, Rev. Mr. Lawson, a Methodist minister, was drowned at Newport. It appears in attempting to ferry himself and horse across the Grand River, by some unaccountable means the endless chain attached to the boat broke, knocking him into the water, with the above melancholy result. His horse was also drowned at the same time. The unfortunate gentleman's untimely death cast a deep gloom over his congregation and the community, where he was widely known and greatly respected.
A fatal accident
of a very distressing character occurred a number of years back to Thomas Brown,
another of our pioneer settlers. The causes of his death have not transpired
other than that he fell from a mow in his barn, and sustained injuries which
proved immediately fatal. He was a good citizen and kind neighbour.
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