WESLEYVILLE - VILLAGE EARLY DAYS RECALLED
from The Weekly Guide, May 19, 1933 - page 1
A LARGE GATHERING HELD IN THE WESLEYVILLE UNITED CHURCH, a few miles
west of Port Hope, on the lake shore. A complete history of the village
was given in an historical sketch last week. The success of the
enterprise was due in large part to the work of Mrs E J Barrowclough,
who gathered the data.
Above, Wesleyville United Church: left, Mrs E J Barrowclough: centre,
Rev. W E Honey, pastor of the church: right Mrs Arnold Austin, President
of the Young Peoples organization, which is doing a great work in the
village, and under whose auspices the meeting last week was held.
from The Weekly Guide, May 19, 1933 - page 6
VILLAGE EARLY DAYS RECALLED
Historical Sketch Of Interest, Presented At Wesleyville Meeting Tuesday:
From the time the village of Wesleyville was inhabited by Indians, and up to the present day, was recounted in an historical sketch presented at Wesleyville on Tuesday night. The meeting was conducted by the Wesleyville United Church Young People's Association, and a large number turned out to hear of the early life of the community. The meeting was in charge of
Misses. Arnold Austin, the President. The success of the history of the village is due to Mrs E J Barrowclough, who was given the task of assembling the data. The work took many weeks of preparation and Mrs Barrowclough is to be commended on the records which were given.
Wesleyville is six miles west of Port Hope on the Lakeshore Road. This road was once an old deer path, which accounts for its winding ways. It followed the lake west from Port Hope, as far as Bondhead. Kingston highway turns north at Port Hope and west at Welcome. "Our country has been in turn, Indian, French and British. Hurons were all powerful along this shore of Lake Ontario at one time, but during the time Canada was owned by the French, the Iroquois drove the Hurons out of this region, and almost out of existence. The Iroquois in turn, were succeeded by
Mississaugas. Descendants of the latter are still living at Rice Lake. In 1668 Sulpician Monks established a Mission at Bay of Quinte, then called Kente. They left Lachine on October 2nd and after 26 days, reached Quinte. They had pumpkins fried in lard for dinner and the next day a dish of sunflower seeds and maize, called sagmite. That same year Fenelon, one of these priests, followed this shore as far as Pickering and called it Frenchman's Bay.
One of their Mission posts was at Ganaraska, now Port Hope. They followed the shore both east and west for stray members of their flock. The only record of Indian occupation in Wesleyville has been found when men plowed the fields. Arrow heads of different shapes and sizes, and flint skinning tools, have been found on high land on most of the farms here. Then we know nothing of this place until Canada ceased to be French, and until after the unpleasantness with the American Colonies.
Thousands who wished to remain loyal subjects of the King came here and settled along the shores of the great system of lakes and rivers. Until this time Quebec included all Canada, but in 1791, the Constitutional Act was passed, dividing it into Upper and Lower Canada. Upper Canada was divided into four districts and this section belonged to the Home district. In 1792 Upper Canada was divided into nineteen counties.
Northumberland and Durham received their present name, being called after counties of that name in England. In 1798 Durham was divided into Clarke, Hope, and Darlington. In 1802 these two counties were taken from the Home District and made into Newcastle District. A jail was to be built at Newcastle, and until that time a majority of justices of the peace could appoint a suitable place to hold court. The district jail was finally built at Cobourg after 26 years of disagreement.
The first surveying of Hope Township was done in 1793, but the ague and fever made it necessary for the surveyor to return to Newark that Fall and finish the work the next Summer. Hope was named after Colonel Henry Hope, and Clarke after General Alured Clarke who was Lieut. Governor in 1792.
In 1795 Leonard Soper came to Hope Township but moved to Darlington in 1806. While in Hope, he lost a team of horses and after they had been gone fifteen months the Indians told him where they were. Going to the place he found the horse and a young colt but the mare was missing. There is a story told that the first court ever held in this district was held in Sopor's barn and the officials played a game of ball to decide who should pay for the dinner. Ephriam Gifford, whose son will be mentioned later, acted as constable.
The Soper farm is now owned by A Holdaway and on the farm, now owned by Mr Best, is the Soper cemetery. A tombstone is there to the memory of Leonard Soper, who died in 1838. Another stone bears the epitaph, "Death is a debt to nature due, I've paid mine and so must you. The tombstone maker was H Farquharson
of Port Hope. Mr Soper made one trip by canoe to Kingston to grist mill and several to Napanee.
The first settler to come to Wesleyville in 1797 was Mr Jonathan Brown. He came from Ireland at the same time as the Lovekin family, who settled farther west.
The Brown family landed on the beach south of the farm now owned by George Dinner, about a mile west of Wesleyville Church. Except for a cleared spot, about one acre in size this, section was all densely wooded. This space had evidently been used by the Indians as a meeting place for many relics were found there, among them a hatchet of flint. This space was near the lake on the west side of Dinner's farm. For a temporary shelter,
Mr Brown made a dug-out in the side of the bank. He had brought some pigs with him and made a pen for them nearby. One day they saw a bear tearing the logs away from the pen and Mr Brown ran for his gun. The powder would not ignite from the flint spark so he called his wife to bring a coal from the fire. When he said 'Ready', she dropped the coal on the powder. They shot the bear.
The trees here were all beech and maple and from them they made a comfortable house, with split logs for a floor. The trees were cut down in rows and while some were being burned others were hauled to the edge of the bank to water. The lake was thus used to clear away the unwanted trees. After they had been some time, one moonlight night, some of the settlers cut Brown's grain with the sickle and stooked it. In the morning Mr Brown saw the stooks around the stumps and called to his wife. 'Charity, Charity, put some cakes in the byre, the fairies have cut the grain', — for they were Irish you know. Fish were plentiful close to shore, J Brown's grandson, T Brown, who lives at Port Granby, tells us that they could take a willow basket, hold it under a waterfall of a small creek and soon get it full of speckled trout. J Brown had been a whaler, and later a tailor for the British Army. He brought his harpoon here with him, one of those which had to be thrust in by hand, and then a spring pressed down to release two prongs at the point. His wife made homespun cloth, from which Mr Brown made suits for the settlers who came soon after him. He owned the land
from Nichol's corner west, to the town line, but sold the west portion to Garner Gifford for seven bushels of corn. They took their first grain to Oshawa by canoe, to be ground into flour. When they visited their neighbours, the Lovekins, they also went by canoe. J Brown lived to be one hundred and three years old. He and his wife are buried on that farm as well as some of their family and several Indians. Mr Brown never had his hair cut, but wore it in a long braid down his back.
Wild animals were common. One night when Hiram Brown, son of J Brown, was coming home with a quarter of veal on his shoulder, a lynx jumped on the veal. Mr Brown, didn't dispute possession but the next morning he found the towel which had been around it and traced the cat to a hollow stump where she had a family of little kittens. H Brown's wife was a Gaige, one of the U. E. L's. He was one of those who helped to draw the brick for the present church. One of the girls of J Brown's family married Garner Gifford. Their daughter married William Harris, grandson of M. Harris, the first man to take up land in Port Hope. They lived on the farm now occupied by Mr D Vannatto.
Garner Gifford's son, William, was a magistrate for many years and court was held in the house which is still on the Gifford property.
The property west of Brown's was settled by Wallace's, who came there in 1831. They were adherents of the first Presbyterian Church in Port Hope and drove there in a wagon to attend services. The Sisson's and Walton's were also among the earliest settlers. The farm now owned by W T Nichols was the Sisson home, and Walton's lived on the next farm west, now owned by A J Nichols. The old Walton house was right near the line fence between their two places. A clump of lilacs in still there. During the war of 1812 to 1814, the lake shore was the only road to Toronto from Kingston. The Walton's could see the red coats and glittering bayonets of the soldiers coming over Port Britain hill. They were usually quartered at Marsh's Inn, Port Britain, but one night some of them stayed at Walton's. The next morning Misses Walton couldn't get across the kitchen to get the breakfast — the men were on the floor. They were too tired to get up and told her to step right over them. When Mr Walton went out in the morning, he missed two of his pigs. He blamed the soldiers for roasting them, so the C.O. paid for them, in gold. When the soldiers had gone, the pigs, returned from the woods, where they had been eating beech nuts.
They tell that when the powder magazine was blown up before Gen Sheaffe evacuated Toronto, the report was heard at Walton's.
In the field in which Walton's house stood, Mr Nichols found a cannon ball, about the size of a baseball and weighing four pounds. He also ploughed up an old rusty bayonet. It was during this war that a keg of gold was supposed to have been buried somewhere near Wesleyville.
The present Kingston highway was surveyed in 1815 by Captain Danforth and the first mail was carried by mule. The side road running along the old Walton farm is about two miles east of Wesleyville. The first two farms west of this road now owned by Ernest Ball, were part of the famous clergy reserves. They were first occupied, and the buildings erected, by
Lyall's. In the second field back from the Lake shore road and bordering the side road, was an old salt lick. Salt was spread on the ground under a large tree, in which the hunter sat, waited for the red deer and had easy hunting.
E Ball's home farm was owned by Gordon Walton and from him it passed to Mrs Ball, Sr., who was his sister. The first house was farther north than the present one, Revelstoke Manor. When they were boys, Albert and Edward used to walk to the highway to watch the mail coach come to Marsh's Inn.
The property now owned by H Austin was for a long time part of the Bee estate. Before that it was owned by a man named VanSickler.
The next farm west is also part of Ball's estate and was long owned by Edward Ball. This farm was granted to a Marsh girl, who was married to a Rice. On this place was Wesleyville's first sawmill where the old upright saw was used. In the remains of the house may be seen planks
1 and ¾ inches thick, standing upright and when it was built first, these were fastened entirely by wooden pins. Frank Little kept a tavern in the house now owned by Mr H Brooking. There was also a tavern where the Post Office now is, called, 'Plough Inn, and Drag Out.' The house on the farm occupied by
Mr Vannatto was built for a tavern. These three were within two miles on the same road. On the same farm as the Sopper cemetery, a brewery was once in operation. It had water from a spring piped to it, and if any one wanted to water his horse he was obliged to buy a stronger drink for himself. This property was settled by Bests and is still owned by Richard Best.
The Mounteer family were long residents of the farm west of Brooking's. The buildings were destroyed by fire in 1931. Different members of the Mounteer family acted as local preachers in Wesleyville Church. Mr Luke and James Jacobs were two of the early settlers in Wesleyville.
The farm owned by James Jacobs changed owners many times and finally was purchased by Beatrice Allen from Misses C Carscadden and sold in small lots. The part north of the road is owned by F W Hayden, but the part south of the road is owned by summer residents, who call their resort, Redlea Beach. The first building was done in 1923.
John Barrowclough came from England and purchased the farm just east of Wesleyville corner, from L Jacobs in 1847. This land had been granted in 1801 to Mary Ridley, but was secured from her in 1802 by Robert Willcocks. E Barrowclough, son of John, still owns the farm. He operates a sawmill which he began about forty years ago.
In 1800 there was a tavern on the corner where the post office now is. Later, a cobbler lived there and made boots for his neighbours. A mechanic named Parker had a machine shop, just west of the present house. There was also a blacksmith shop near the same place. This man built a threshing mill, field rollers, and many other things. Another carpenter, Mr Palmer, built the house which is now the home of T Oughtred, a descendant of a pioneer family. Their home was originally back near the old Grand Trunk track.
Three immense poplars once stood just east of the church. They were so tall they served as a landmark for sailors. Across the road was another blacksmith shop owned by Huntington's. Farther down the side road, towards the lake was a little log house, where an Irish lady could generally be seen at her spinning. This land was owned by Squire Potts, who lived farther south on the same road. This farm now belongs to Mr S Barrowclough.
Charles Meadows came to Hope Township early in the last century. He landed at Port Hope before the wharf was built and his stock had to swim ashore. He settled near Port Hope but later moved to Wesleyville, being the first settler on the land now owned by W Mason.
Stevens and Varcoe cleared the farms now owned by R and H Nichols. Part of the land was stony and both of these women picked stones day after day, carrying them in a sack to the edge of the fields. Parts of the stone fences are still there. Children of this section attended school at Port Granby until, after some disagreement, a school was built about half a mile east of Wesleyville. Miss Agnes Wallace, who passed away a few weeks ago at the age of ninety-seven years, attended this school. She told of being at school on the day that a woman was killed by lightning in the house now owned by V Thorndyke. At that time, Luke Jacobs lived there and his sister-in-law was sitting in a chair with a child in her arms when struck by lightning. The child was unhurt.
The same school was either moved to the present site, or another one built there. In 1800 it was torn down and the frame church moved over for a school. This was burned in 1899 and the present one built the same year. The school land was received from Mary Saxby in 1866. A son of Squire Potts, taught in the old school at one time and Nelson Barrowclough, now of Rochester, taught there in 1869. The present teacher is Bliss G Coburn.
Church services were held in the basement kitchen of the Barrowclough home before a church was built. The first church was frame and in 1860, was replaced by the present one. The contractor who built it was Jaynes, of Port Hope. The land on which it was built was given by J Barrowclough and also the land for the cemetery. The trustees at that time were Luke and James Jacobs, Jonathan Brand, and J Barrowclough. The tavern keeper joined the church on its opening Sunday, and the following morning poured his supply of whiskey down the road. The first ministers came from Cobourg on horseback, one of them known as Father Corson. Then Wesley Church became part of Canton circuit, and because there were so many charges, there was always a young minister to help the regular pastor, as well as laymen, who acted as local preachers. This church was always Wesleyan. About 1883 when the Bible Christians and Wesleyans united, the Welcome circuit was formed, of which Wesleyville is still a part with
Rev W E Honey as pastor. The first choir leader was Abram Bean, who lived in Clarke, on the place now owned by Mr Zealand. When he moved away, the minister, Mr Rupert, wrote a letter, signed by the trustees to E Barrowclough, asking him to be choir leader and organist about the year 1878. He did so, although at that time he could only play two tunes, — Prayer and Martyn. He continued his studies with Prof Singleton of Port Hope. For twelve years he conducted a choir trained in part singing which was able to provide music for the home church and to help other churches at special services. During this time, the organ which is still used, was purchased at Bowmanville. W Meadows followed as choir leader. He carried on the work for several years. The present organist is Reg Bee, being the third of that family to act in that capacity. His sisters, Mrs S Brooking and Mrs K Bunn, were previous organists.
The present Bible Class leader is Mrs V Thorndyke, and in the church's early history, J Barrowclough was class leader for many years. A year ago, at the suggestion of Mr Hayden, the church grounds were improved and a service held to dedicate the vines which were planted, and to recall the opening of the church. E Abbott, a summer resident who died recently, planted vines on the west side of the church shortly after this service.
The first postmaster was John Barrowclough. The office was first opened about 1875, The present postmaster is T Oughtred. This community was once known as Crimea. When the church was built it was called Wesley, and the ville was added when the post office was opened. Long ago, William Brown, son of Jonathan, went to Decker's Hollow with grain to be ground. That night his parents thought they heard him returning. When they went to the door, the team of oxen stood there with the two-wheeled cart but William was not there. They brought in the flour thinking the oxen had got away and that he would walk home later. He did not return and the next morning he was found on the road near where Roy Nichol's house now is. He had been killed by a blow dealt on the back of his head.
On the morning following a quarrel in Little's tavern a man was found dead on the road just east of the tavern. His horse was standing with bridle rein thrown over Rice's fence. The verdict returned was 'Accidental death'. Abe Young, a man who once lived west of Wesleyville, left home one day and did not return. It was believed he was murdered. People thought they knew where and by whom, but his body was never found nor was the manner of his death ever proven. In those days it was hard to get evidence and the murderers at these three men were never arrested.
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