Search billions of records on


London Free Press March 27, 1926, p.8

Campbells and Riddells first in Mornington

Mrs George Riddell, near Peffers, last of Earliest Settlers in Township
Has lived on same farm for 64 years
Marriage United the two Oldest Families in that Section of Perth

By A. E. Byerly, D. O.

To be the last of the very early settlers of Mornington township, Perth County, Ontario, falls to the credit of Mrs George Riddell, who has lived on the same farm near the station of Peffers for 64 years.

Mrs Riddell, who is now in her 82nd year, came to Mornington over 70 years ago. She was born near Streetsville, Ont, the daughter of William and Elizabeth Campbell, who, when she was a child, moved to the Township of Mornington, there being at that time only one other family in all that wilderness. This was the Riddell family, two miles from their home, which was situated near where the Village of Carthage now is.

Jane Campbell, now Mrs George Riddell, can well remember those early days when her father erected a shanty in the bush and called it home. The woods all about their little clearing was filled with wild animals and game of all kinds. Bears ventured into the yard, and the first pig that this family possessed, a bear killed and devoured. A fawn was often captured and became very friendly, but when the next year came around it went bounding off into the woods with its kind.

In the early days of the township nothing was heard about the City of Stratford. Shakespeare or Northeast Hope was where the pioneers had to walk for their provisions. Two days were required to make this trip with the heavy burden both coming and going.

Sixty-four year ago Jane Campbell was married to George Riddell, the son of the first family in North Mornington. They settled on a farm, lot 5, concession 10, Mornington, about 1.5 miles from the station of Peffers, and it is upon this farm that Mrs Riddell is still living with her daughter and son-in-law, Mr and Mrs Alex Ross. She retains her health and strength to a remarkable degree, and has a very vivid memory of the early days of the township, as well as taking a keen interest in the affairs of the present day.

The first settlers of Mornington, who were neighbors of the Campbells, were the James Riddell family, the Glens, Patterson and Hamiltons. These people are still living. They, with Thomas Simpson, Elizabeth and Catharine Walker, the Allens and Wood children, were among the scholars in the first schoolhouse. Thomas Simpson is still living.

School Organized

It was several years after the Campbells went to Mornington before a school was organized. The first meeting called to organize the school and make plans to errect a building was held in the home of Mrs Riddell's parents. The school building was located on the 12th line, and the first teacher was Allan McCollough. He was followed by William Torrance, and Dan McClea. The term was for six months.

Mornington has had an interesting church history. The first meetings were held in the homes and often in the barns, and were conducted by ministers who visited the township. The first minister was of the English church, a Rev. Drinkwater. A Methodist minister also came to the township occasionally. The first actual church was organized and held services in the log schoolhouse 64 [?] years ago. This was the beginning of the fine Presbyterian Church of North Mornington. Rev. Lowry came from Milverton and mininstered to this first congregation, of whom Mrs Riddell, Mrs John Ingram and Mrs Peffers, of Mornington, are the only ones living who were among the first who united with it then. A year or so later a frame-church was built on the farm of Sam Robinson. This church was built by John, Hugh and James Smith.

Following the Rev. Thomas Lowry came the Rev. Peter Musgrave, Rev. John Kay, who is still living in Stratford, and Rev. J. W. Cameron, who remained for 22 years. He was followed by the Rev. John Little, who now lives at Rockwood, Rev. A. C. Stewart and Re. G. N. F. Atkinson. The church voted by a large majority to remain Presbyterian. The church building, the third in the history of the church, is a beautiful red brick structure, erected in 1903. The land on which it stands was given by Mrs Riddell.

The first burying ground in Mornington was laid out on land given by James Riddell, the father-in-law of [the subject of the] sketch, Mrs George Riddell. He was the first person to be buried therein.

It can be seen from the above short sketch of Mornington that Mrs Riddell was intimately connected with all its early history. Her father's family consisted of 11 children, of whom five are still living: Mrs Riddell, in Mornington, Mrs John Ingram, in California, John Campbell, of Strafford, Alex Campbell, Toronto, and Mrs A. H. Ingram, of Hamilton. Mrs Riddell had six children, three sons and three daughters. One, William, is now dead. The living are: Mrs Alex Ross, with whom she lives, Archie, of Saskatchewan, Mrs John McCauley, of Carthage, Mrs John Riddell and Frank, of Peffers.

Mrs Riddell's mother and father, William and Elizabeth Campbell, were born at Tyrone, Ireland. Mrs Campbell was Elizabeth Glen before her marriage. several of her brothers and sisters were early settlers of Western Ontario. John Glen lived in Erin; Jane Glen marrried Robert Long, and a daughter of Jane and Robert Long married the late Samuel Bailey, of Guelph.

Mrs Riddell says that the first villages in Mornington were Morningdale and Millbank. Glenallan was ten miles away. It was to this place they often walked, leaving home in the morning and being back at 2:00 in the afternoon. Milverton was reached by a blaze on the trees. It was also about ten miles away. Many changes have taken place in Mornigton in the last seventy years. No longer do they follow a blaze on the trees to reach Milverton, or do wild beasts haunt their door steps.


About Perth County, Ontario

Welcome to Perth County GenWeb, your online guide to Perth County Genealogy since February 1998! I am Meg Fuller, Your Coordinator for this County site.

I hope you enjoy your visit. Please email me if you have any suggestions or contributions you would like to make.

I hope you find my efforts helpful in your research of your County roots. I am unable to do additional research on your family as I do not have direct access to records. I post everything I have for all to use.

Perth County is located in south-western Ontario in about the middle of the peninsula. There are many small towns and hamlets in this area, and the largest city is Stratford. Stratford currently has a population of about 30 000. This population swells in the summer tourist season! For the most part Perth County consists of rural agricultural land. The other major industry is tourism because of the Stratford Festival.

It is one of the few counties in South-Western Ontario that doesn't touch any of the Great Lakes. Because of its location, and distance from the Great Lakes, it was one of the last areas in Ontario to be settled. People who aren't familiar with Ontario often confuse it with Perth, a city in Lanark County. If it's Perth, Lanark County you're after, or if your reference just says Perth, here's a link to the Lanark County GenWeb. But it was nice of you to visit.

Surrounding Counties

View maps

Oxford | Middlesex | Huron | Wellington | Waterloo