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Welland - Canada 




i Historical n 

z First Inhabitants 17 

3 Early Life zz 

4 Early Growth z8 

5 The Wardells 30 

6 Richard the Sixth, and James Harvey Griffin 3Z 

7 Deacon Page s Elopement 34 

8 First Council Meetings 40 

9 The First Four Parliaments of Upper Canada 43 

10 Churches 50 

1 1 Education 5z 

iz The Press 55 

13 Railways 57 

14 Barter, Banks, and Banking 59 

15 Prominent Citizens 6z 

16 Short Sketches of Smithville Citizens 74 

17 Brief Records of Smithville 80 

18 Smithville in i85z 84 

19 Smithville in 1876 85 

zo Smithville in i9iz 87 

zi Smithville in i9zz 89 




The Kcnachdaw River" or "Twenty Mile Creek" Title 

Plowing in Early Days Title 

James Harvey Griffin 16 

Jacob Fisher 16 

James Dowlin Page (Deacon Page) 16 

Mary (Polly) Fisher Page 16 

Robert Murgatroyd 3z 

Celebration at Smithville July ist, 1904 48 

Smithville in i9zz 49 



"Smith ville, my old home town" how much these words mean to 
the men and women, boys and girls who have broken home ties, left the 
haven of wise counsel, and the loving care of fond parents, who have 
left old associates and the familiar scenes of childhood, who have parted 
from the schoolmates of earlier days, and gone out into the world, 
these are the men and women who know in the truest sense the meaning 
of the words "home" and "home town." As a boy this thought fre 
quently came to mind, "Would I ever have to leave my old home and 
native village when I should grow to be a man?" I always answered 
my own question in this way: "If I have the choosing of my future I 
shall stay in the dearest place on earth, the place of my birth." Fate 
however, has decreed otherwise, and it is now fourteen years since I 
stood on the depot platform waiting with mingled feelings of anticipa 
tion, fond hopes, regrets and fears, and a sense of tears unshed, for the 
train that would take me to new scenes, and a new life in unfamiliar 
places. Looking backward to that day I can perhaps best express my 
feelings in this little song, which the memory of happy days has suggest 
ed to my mind. 


There s a home in a valley, where bright flowers bloom, 

And the bird-songs are sweeter to me, 
Than all the gay songsters of climes just as fair. 

Tis the home of my boyhood so free, 
Where pure apple blossoms perfumed purer air. 

All its beauty in memory I see; 
And though I may wander in many sweet bowers, 

There is only one valley for me. 

Chorus : 

It s the valley of youth, it s the valley of truth, 

The memory dwells in my heart, 
And in fancy I live the fond hours again. 
May their sweet incence never depart. 

As memory turns backward I see once again 

The bare- footed chums of my youth, 
The smiling green fields, the old miller s dam, 

The church where we heard from God s truth. 
I see my sweet mother with silvery hair, 

And a face pure and tender to see, 
So of all the fair valleys I ve seen anywhere, 

There is only one valley for me. 


/ hear the cows lowing, the birds sweetly sing, 

The busy bee hums round the door. 
I hear the old bell of the village church ring, 

In my heart it shall ring evermore. 
Neu> valleys I know and new faces I meet, 

New pleasures in life there may be, 
But, oh for a glimpse of my old fashioned home, 

In the valley of boyhood to me\ 

Visiting Smithville a year ago I was impressed with the many 
changes which had taken place during my fourteen years of absence. 
The very appearance of the place was in a measure unfamiliar; new busi 
nesses had sprung up and many old ones had changed ownership. New 
faces were seen everywhere. Many of the older people had passed into 
the Great Beyond. I asked myself this question: "Would the next gen 
eration be able to obtain the complete history of this, one of the oldest 
villages in Ontario; would there be men and women living who could 
tell them of the Smithville of long ago?" 

The present native population consists of the third and fourth gen 
erations, counting the original inhabitants as the first generation. Real 
izing these facts I determined to record in a simple way the story of 
Smithville and her people, in order that it might be preserved and that 
future generations might know how and when their home-town came 
into existence; and that they might profit by the knowledge of how their 
ancestors built the corner-stone of a structure, of which they may be 
justly proud. Having determined to carry out this purpose, I decided 
to trace the history from the first settler, 1787, up to the present time 
(192.1). It is not my purpose to give my readers a mere statement of 
historical dates and events, but rather a narrative telling of the lives of 
our forefathers, their joys and sorrows, hopes and fears. In order that 
the readers may better appreciate the stories and events recorded herein, 
I may assure them that the historical part is a true and accurate account 
of time, places and events. These facts were obtained from branches 
of pioneer families living in United States, from County and Township 
records and from those of the Canadian Archives, all of which are au 
thentic. The incidents, customs and stories recorded were obtained from 
reliable eye witnesses; or as told them by parents and pioneer acquaint 
ances. In this connection I am indebted, to the following, who are the 
four oldest residents of Smithville, namely, Isaac Wardell, John Field, 
John Davis, Sr., and Mrs. Jane Cobb, all four being related to the first 
pioneer settlers and all four relatives of the author. Naturally the facts 
available centre around the ancestors of these old people, who can recall 
so much of what they have seen and heard. 

I am also grateful for valuable information received from the follow 
ing, who belong to a younger generation, Calvin Page, Alvin Hill, John 
Hill, Robert Murgatroyd, Martin Barry, W. F. H. Patterson, and Mrs. 
Catherine Patterson. One outstanding truth in connection with the 
rural history of our Province is that there is a type of men which are 


passing, namely the picturesque personalities, which were found in rural 
Ontario a generation ago, and which stood out from the average person 
ality by reason of strongly marked individuality. They did not mind 
being thought different from other people, nor did they mind expressing 
any opinion different from that generally prevailing. Their sayings were 
quoted as local philosophy, and although not always taken seriously, 
they contained much shrewdness and wisdom. Today we are more in 
clined to think and act in groups. I hope we may be able to retain some 
of this honest homely philosophy through the reading of this little vol 
ume. We wish in this story to bring to the present generation of Smith- 
ville citizens, a true picture of the character, ideals and customs, of their 
pioneer ancestors. 

Smithville and the world owes much to the enterprise, the love of 
adventure, the thrift and daring of the pioneer. Dangers beset him on 
every hand, yet he pressed forward with a determination undaunted, 
and the fruits of his labor are now enjoyed by Posterity. 

As I dream by the fireside, a picture I see, 

Of life s crowded gallery, the dearest to me, 

An old fashioned home, with fireside aglow, 

And an old fashioned couple with hair white as snow. 

It s the old pioneers, God bless them today. 
They have taught us to work, to love, and to pray. 
Like the stalwart old oak, they are strong, brave and true, 
For they built up the homeland neath Red, White and Blue. 
They have braved the old forest, a conquest they ve won; 
They have finished their labor where we ve just begun. 
May the torch which they hand us be kept burning bright, 
For their Nation s glory, and our true birthright. 

May the God of our fathers be our God today, 
And their noble example guide us on our way. 
May our Nation be builded on their noble plan, 
A nation of service for our fellowman. 

In studying the history of our people, (when I say our people I 
mean native born Smithvilltonians). I was impressed by this fact, name 
ly, our common ancestry; nearly every old Smithville family, if they 
were to trace their ancestry back to the early pioneers, would find that 
somewhere along that line of ancestry they were in some measure, by 
ties of blood or marriage, related to nearly every other family whose 
ancestry dated back to the early settlement of this village. 

We have then in a measure a common ancestry, which should do 
much toward binding us together as a community. Our forefathers 
were neighbors and friends in the true pioneer meaning of the words. 
May this encourage us in the modern application of the community spirit 
of progress and helpfulness. May we realize that we share a common 
heritage, the result of the united efforts of a common ancestry. May 



we not be inspired to be worthy of the heritage which is ours, and profit 
by recalling the sterling qualities of heart and head of the pioneer builders 
of our community? 

If the writing of this book will accomplish these results, I shall have 
been amply repaid for any labor expended. 

If the men and women who have gone out into the world and call 
Smithville home, are inspired to live more useful, honest, God-fearing 
lives; if the citizens now calling Smithville their home, have a desire to 
make their home a place bigger and better, to build well on the structure 
whose foundation was laid by men, staunch and true, if the spirit of 
fellowship and goodwill is promoted; then I shall be glad and proud, 
not only of our pioneer forefathers, but al<so of their children s children. 



Quebec, the ancient Capital, had fallen before the successful attack 
of the English under the command of General Wolfe, the army of the 
gallant Montcalm having been defeated and his strongest and best forti 
fied position captured. Both brave generals gave their lives at this 
decisive battle and upheld by their bravery the honor of their respective 
nations. Today the descendants of both races honor the names and re 
vere the memory of these men of France and England. A single monu 
ment has been erected in the city in honor of both Generals, which shows 
that the descendants of two great races have forgotten or buried old 
differences and have shown their united respect for two brave gentlemen 
who died, fighting under different banners. 

The young settlement which gave so much promise for the future 
of France now became an English Colony. It is around this former 
French Colony, that the vast confederation of Canada grew. With a 
large measure of freedom, civil and religious, the settlers were content 
to be loyal to the British Crown, and later, when the time of testing 
came, most of them refused to join the American Revolutionists against 
the English, while about four hundred of them took up arms in defence 
of British institutions. 

Let us see how our country was settled at this time. She had a total 
population of about sixty thousand souls, located at Quebec, Three Rivers 
and Montreal, the rest thinly scattered along the shores of the St. Law 
rence and the Richelieu. The lands about the Great Lakes and the 
western country were held only by a few scattered forts, buried in the 
thick wilderness, where trade was carried en with the Indians. Many 
soldiers and traders, cut off from civilization, took wives from the In 
dian tribes about them and became as lawless as the Indians. In time 
of war, however, these men were the Frontier s best defense. 

It is of the settlements about the Great Lakes in which we are most 
interested in this volume which will be dealt with more fully in part 2. 
of this chapter. 

The dress of the upper classes of the French at this period was like 
that prevailing among the same classes in France, although less extrava 
gant powdered hair, long wide frocked coats of gay colors, with lace 
at neck and wristbands. Out of doors the dress of the nobility was more 
distinctively Canadian overcoats of native cloth were worn with large 
pointed hoods. I have seen in the ancient Capital in our own time 
parties of French Snowshoers and tobogganists dressed in blanket coats 
with pointed collars; these costumes brightened by gay sashes, a survival 
in some measure of the early out-of-door dress of their ancestors. 

The Habitants dressed more simply in coarse homespun coat, grey 
leggings, woollen cap and moccasins of cowhide, this costume being 


brightened by a bright colored sash. The muskets used at this time were 
the heavy flintlocks which produced fire by the flint striking a piece of 
steel when the trigger came down, causing a spark, which fell into a 
pan containing powder which it ignited. This primitive method of pro 
ducing fire was practised by the Indians and was their only means of 
starting a fire. 

From this brief review of the French Colony let us turn to a review 
of the conditions existing in the more English part of our country. 

In 1774 Sir Guy Carleton, (Lord Dorchester) who was Governor- 
General (or Governor as he was known in those days), used his influence 
with the British Parliament to bring about the passing of the Quebec 
Act, whereby the French Civil law was restored and the Roman Catholic 
religion established. Thus the French Canadians were given their Civil 
and Religious liberty, were allowed under British rule to retain their 
language and individuality, which no doubt had a great influence upon 
them in determining the attitude they should take in the struggle that 
was soon to take place in America. 

After the Treaty of Paris was signed and the fear of French invasion 
of the Colonies no longer prevailed, the American Colonists began plotting 
and planning against the King, and against the Officers of the Crown, 
who were administering the affairs of the Colony in America. 

The -reader may ask: "What bearing have these historical facts on 
the history and development of Smithville?" I may say that it has an 
all-important bearing for it determined and tested the loyalty of certain 
men and women of the American colony; it determined the extent of 
their courage in leaving home and country and entering into the priva 
tion and dangers of a new land for a principle. It determined who was 
to pioneer our Smithville forest of long ago; it determined who were to 
be the ancestors of its several generations. It determined the time when 
Smithville should have its first white inhabitant. So let us follow the 
events in America which have such a direct bearing on the early history 
of our native village. 

The Seven Years War was purely a war for the Colonies. England 
had been pouring out blood and treasure to defeat their foes. She had 
burdened herself with a great debt which she asked the Colonies by tax 
ation to assist in paying. They, on the other hand, had no representa 
tion in the British Parliament, and objected to paying tribute to Caesar. 

It was a situation where tact, judgment and toleration were required 
on both sides, but unfortunately none was exercised on either. The 
British Parliament was bitter because they considered the Colonies un 
grateful and unpatriotic, in refusing to share the burden of debt which 
the war had produced. The Colonists on the other hand believed that 
their most sacred rights were being trampled under foot. Their wrath, 
kindled into a flame by agitators, who were paraded across the pages of 
history as patriots, drove them to extreme resolutions and more extreme 

In both the Loyalist and Revolutionary parties there were to be 
found, however, true patriots. Among them stands out pre-eminently, 


Washington, who sought a common ground of reconciliation, rather 
than bloodshed and separation. The customs and trade of the Colonies 
was being interfered with, Colonial commerce being allowed to flow 
into British ports only. The great products of the country could be 
sold to none but Great Britain, and none but British ships were allowed 
in Colonial harbors. The King s army and navy were employed to pre 
vent smuggling. The ill-bred arrogance of British officers had made 
them hated by their equals, the members of the Colonial militia. There 
is little doubt that the English army stationed in the colonies did more 
to sow the seed of discord than any other agency. The Colonists saw 
the stiff-necked will of King and Parliament exemplified in the arrogant 
behavior of their military forces in America. It is true that the Colonists 
had just grievances, which should have been given a fair hearing. Pitt 
fought against the rash policy of Parliament, but in vain. Extremists 
in America fanned the flame of prejudice and drove the British Parliament 
into even sterner measures in order to force the colonies into subjection. 

Whatever may have been the causes for grievance, direct and in 
direct; whatever sticks were cast upon the flaming fire of Colonial indig 
nation, this fact stands out prominently, that there came a day in 1774 
when a congress was called at Philadelphia, where the first real break 
between the Colonies and the Motherland took place. Men who had 
fought together in defence of British soil and institutions now crossed 
swords. I have visited the historic Independence Hall in Philadelphia 
where in 1776 the formal Declaration of Independence was signed. A 
comparatively small plain building, situated in the heart of the Quaker 
City. On the walls of the famous room hang the pictures of the men 
who signed the Declaration. In the same building is the historic and 
much treasured liberty bell, which has a large crack down its side. 
Whether this is an indication that the bell has been overworked in ring 
ing forth its peals of liberty I am not prepared to say; at any rate it is a 
much prized treasure of the American people. 

We now come to that part of the war which to the Canadian people 
is of the greatest importance. When the second Congress met in 1775 
in Philadelphia, an urgent appeal was sent to Nova Scotia and Quebec, 
calling on them to join in opposing British tyranny, but the message 
fell upon deaf ears. Let us remember that these same French-Canadians 
had not long before this time fought and lost to Great Britain. The 
French would stay under the British flag. Let those who wave the flag 
highest and shout loudest of loyalty beware how they criticize the mili 
tary activities of the French-Canadians. I would suggest that they 
first study the history of French Canada, her habitant life, temperament 
and ambitions. We shall see before this chapter closes how the French- 
Canadians behaved in this crisis in the history of our country. 

In April, 1775, General Gage, Military Governor at Boston, sent 
out a detachment to seize some rebel stores at the village of Lexington. 
They accomplished their purpose, but were driven back to the city with 
heavy losses by the minute men of the rebel forces. 


This was the actual beginning of the war of independence of the 
American Colonies, which changed the whole history of America and 
divided for the first time the English-speaking race. Two months later 
came the Battle of Bunker s Hill, where the English regulars were re 
pulsed, but finally carried the position and completely defeated the Rebel 
forces. I have often gazed at the cannon which was captured at this 
battle by the English forces which is now a trophy standing on the 
Citadel at Quebec. I say I have often looked upon this prize and wonder 
ed why so frequently writers and speakers refer to the Battle of Bunker s 
Hill as an American victory. At this time the Congress in session at 
Philadelphia decided that if Canada was not longing for real liberty, 
then this liberty must be thrust upon her. 

An army of 3,000 men under General Montgomery was sent against 
Montreal while Colonel Arnold with a force of 1,2.00 men approached 

To defend Canada against these two invasions the Governor, Sir 
Guy Carleton, had only about four hundred regulars and 550 French- 
Canadian volunteers. Had it not been for the added strength brought 
by these 550 Canadians, Quebec would have fallen and we would now 
probably be an annexation of The United States of America. These 
550 men were fighting the battle of their former enemy and conqueror, 
England, and let us give them credit for saving to posterity this land 
of the North which has become the great country within the Empire 
which it is today. 

To Sir Guy Carlton we owe much. Had it not been for his energy 
and skill Quebec would have been lost. Montreal was captured by the 
rebel forces. Sir Guy fled to Quebec, rallied all his forces, expelled the 
doubtful and disloyal ones, and awaited the attack with 1600 men at his 
back. Arnold and Montgomery now besieged the ancient city and en 
dured for a time the rigorous Quebec winter, which at times is bitterly 
cold. They were chagrined that the French-Canadians could not be 
seduced, and if they stayed until spring they feared the arrival of a Brit 
ish fleet. 

It was the last night of the year 1775. In the darkness and in a 
driving storm the besiegers crept up to take the city by assault; two 
columns moved upon Lower Town, where street fighting took place, 
until a body of troops arrived from Upper Town. Falling upon the rear 
of the invaders they captured about 400 and put the rest to rout. 

The second assaulting column, led by Montgomery himself, came 
down the St. Lawrence shore from Wolfe s Cove, and sought to enter 
the city by a narrow path where now runs Champlain Street. At the 
head of this path stood guard a company of Canadians. They had a 
small cannon loaded with grape, pointing up the path. The invaders 
made a rush to overpower the guard, but were met by a volley of grape 
which mowed down the head of their column. Among the slain were 
Montgomery and his two Aides. The assailants fled in a panic. In 
the morning the dead bodies of the enemy were brought into the city, 
that of Montgomery receiving special consideration. He was buried 


in the St. Louis bastion. The place where Montgomery fell is now 
marked by a large stone which may be seen from Champlain Street, 
which runs winding along the St. Lawrence. It is a strange coincidence 
that Montgomery, an invader of Canada, and Carleton, her defender, 
had both fought under Wolfe in his last campaign. 

How strange the fortunes of war; duty, passion, hatred, patriotism, 
the lure of the battlefield, the martial music, the heated and oft-times 
illogical public speech, all these combine to influence men and nations 
to line up against each other, even brother against brother, father against 
son and comrade against comrade. And so Montgomery, a good soldier, 
humane and a gentleman was respected by his foes and his body gently 
laid to rest on British soil. 

In the Spring a British fleet came and the invaders hastily withdrew. 
Consider the old British fleet, how many hearts it has cheered in its 
long history of gallant achievement; it has held the Old Empire intact, 
it has championed and protected isolated civilization in many scenes 
and climes, and now the besieged Quebeckers were cheered by its timely 
arrival in the St. Lawrence. Fighting continued during the summer, 
and a naval battle in the Autumn in which the Revolutionists were de 
feated, ended the campaign and left Canada free of the invader. 

Canada was not willing to have the new liberty thrust upon her, 
and by force of arms demonstrated her determination to remain a part 
of the British Empire. 


Who were they? They were those men and women living in the 
American Colonies who were opposed to fighting the British, were op 
posed to the Declaration of Independence, and had enough love for Brit 
ish tradition, law and institutions, that they refused to join the Rebel 
forces in their struggle for independence. Many of them took up arms 
against the Colonial forces. When England signed the Treaty of Ver 
sailles she left these Loyalists to their fate. In the British Parliament 
Lord Sackville said: "A peace founded on the sacrifice of these unhappy 
subjects must be accursed in the sight of God and man." The Govern 
ment pleaded harsh necessity and so for a time they were left to face 
daily the hatred and persecution of their neighbors; they were looked 
upon as traitors because they would not take up arms against England. 
At the time of the evacuation of New York Sir Guy Carleton commanded 
the English forces in America and feeling bitterly the desertion of the 
Loyalists, he sent several thousand of them away in the King s ships, 
but many beyond the reach of Carleton s care were put to death, scourg 
ing, ducking, tarring and feathering was the fate that fell to the re 
mainder. There were driven out in poverty, men whose only guilt was 
having fought in fair fight a lawful cause and lost. 

At Charleston, when the King s troops sailed away they could see 
the bodies of twenty-four Loyalists abandoned to their fate by the coun 
try they had fought for, swing from a row of gibbets on the wharf. 


Shame upon the England of that day that permitted such crime and 
was a party to such a peace. Shame upon the Colonists for meting out 
such treatment on a beaten unprotected foe. 

But history was in the making, events were leading up to the great 
est migration of the best blood of the British race, who were to be the 
builders of a sturdy English settlement in Canada, which would mould 
the destiny of the greatest Colony of the British Empire. The most 
influential Judges, the most distinguished lawyers, the most prominent 
physicians, the most highly educated of the clergy, the Crown officials, 
people of culture and distinction; these with the faithful few whose for 
tunes followed theirs were the Loyalists. 

From Maine to Georgia they came to the wilds of Canada to make 
new homes and build up new communities out of the forests of the North 
land. Sir Guy Carlton was the great mover on their behalf, and England 
tried to redress the wrong which had been done these loyal subjects, by 
giving them grants of land in Canada and assisting them in colonization. 
From 1784 to 1788 they flocked into Canada, one stream of them settling 
in the Maritime Provinces, and another in what are now known as the 
Eastern Townships and on the north shore of Lake Ontario, around its 
western end, and in the Niagara Peninsula. Pioneer days were past for 
the habitant of Quebec, but in 1783-1787 they were just beginning for 
the settlers who were flocking into Ontario. Sixty thousand of them 
(the Loyalists) came and put the stamp of their character upon the far 
eastern and middle provinces, and so we learn by following this brief 
historical outline, who our ancestors were, why and when they came 
to Canada, and the conditions existing in the country to which they 
migrated, for these were the men and women who came first to Smith- 
ville and whom we honor as our ancestry. 


(Deacon Page) 





The name Griffin is a familiar one to the citizens of Smithville and 
has an important place in the history and development of the village. 
In the seventeenth century a number of families migrated to America 
from the old land. Among others were the Griffins, three brothers, 
Edward, William and Richard, from Wales. The Cranes, Lounsburys, 
Travises, Reids and Raymonds also came to New York State about the 
same time. Shortly after their arrival in America the Griffins moved 
to Queman s Landing on the Mohawk River. The Richard Griffin re 
ferred to had a son Richard who had a family of eleven children; seven 
sons and four daughters. Ned or Edward was the eldest son and was, 
no doubt, named after his grandfather s brother, Edward. Abraham 
was the next son, then Smith who was named after his mother, who 
was a Smith. Smith s wife was a sister of Solomon Hill. Bethiah 
Griffin, a daughter, was married to Solomon Hill. These with seven 
others made up the Richard Griffin family. To make this union of the 
two families, the Hills and the Griffins more clear, we may add that two 
grandchildren of the first Griffin who came to America, married two 
grandchildren of the first Hill, who came to America. After the Re 
volutionary war in 1787 the Griffins like thousands of other United Em 
pire Loyalists, decided to leave their home in America and seek a land 
of liberty. It was then that the first movement northward of our an 
cestors took place. They decided to come to Canada. The party con 
sisted of Richard Griffin and ten of his children, while one, Mrs. Solomon 
Hill remained in the United States until 1795. Richard Griffin and his 
family were destined to play an important part in the commercial life 
of the Niagara Peninsula of Upper Canada. Having talked much of the 
then little known country they decided at last co leave their homes and 
venture into the untamed forests of a new and undeveloped land. In 
these days of modern methods of transportation we can scarcely realize 
what such a decision implied. The first thought was plans for modes of 
travelling. The route to the Canadian frontier was but a trackless for 
est. There were no roads, not even the corduroy ones of bumpy renown 
and very few trails. First of all a year s provisions were packed into the 
big wagons, which would insure their living until such time as land could 
be cleared and a crop harvested. It was well for them and their families 
that such provision was made as we shall learn later. They also decided 
to take with them a few cattle, and when we say that these had to be 
driven through the forest and that the wagons were drawn by oxen, we 
can get some conception of the speed or rather lack of speed with which 
the journey was accomplished. I wonder if this family, breaking their 
way slowly and laboriously through the forest, did not possess more of 
the wealth of contented minds and healthy bodies than the occupants 
of the average high-powered car speeding daily over our splendid nigh- 
ways. We cannot pay too high a tribute to the courage and loyal dc- 


votion of the mothers of those days who undertook such a journey and 
faced the hardships of rigorous winters in an unknown wilderness. They 
as well as their husbands suffered all the hardships incident to the settle 
ment of a new country, and by their example and staunch courage in 
spired and encouraged their husbands to overcome difficulties that the 
bravest hearts found hard to bear. Let us picture in our minds this little 
party as they started upon their long journey from what was then known 
as Nine Partners, N.Y. First, perhaps, would be the oxen, who would 
break their way through under growth and obstacles, then came the 
cattle followed by another wagon drawn by oxen. There may have been 
a tear in the eye and a lump in the throat of many of them, as they said 
goodbye to the place that had been home to them and where some of the 
party had first seen the light of day. And so with hopes and fears, re 
grets and tears the little band starts on its long and difficult journey to 
Canada. It was necessary through most of the journey to cut their way 
through dense undergrowth and fallen trees. There may have been some 
few trails blazed here and there, but very few that would serve them 
for any great distance. Wild animals were the great thought at night 
and the camp must needs be carefully guarded. Roving bands of In 
dians might be encountered at any time. The howl of the wolf when 
all was still about the camp would startle the sleepers and make them 
realize that they were in a wilderness and entirely dependent upon God s 
protecting care. 

They were just the type of people who would have a full realization 
of and trust in God s all wise care of His own, and this faith and confi 
dence no doubt was their source of strength in all the trying days and 
nights that followyd. 

At last safe and unmolested they arrived, oxen, cattle, baggage, 
babies and all, at Youngstown, New York. Their next problem was to 
cross the Niagara River, which was no small one, as there were no fer 
ries at that time. A large raft served the purpose and they landed safely 
on Canadian soil. Thank God that these sturdy-hearted pioneers, 
faithful mothers and innocent babes were spared and protected and that 
their feet were planted on British soil, the land which they and sixty 
thousand other Loyalists were to make great. They are now in the 
little Village of Niagara at the mouth of the lovely Niagara River. 

One thing is noticeable in the opening of all new lands where forests 
abound, and that is the tendency of the pioneer, the explorer, the ad 
venturer, to follow the streams, the inland lakes and rivers. There 
are several reasons for this the chief being that the lands are more ac- 
cessable by water, a highway provided by Nature, making it easy to get 
from one part of the country to another, and an easy means of transport 
ing supplies. Another reason is the fertility of the soil and the product 
iveness of the lands along the waters. Still another reason is the natural 
beauty of forest stream, lake and river, which appeals to the artistic 
taste, which most people possess to some degree at least. This was 
true in the settlement of Upper Canada, already as early as 1785 the 
Wardells and other families had crossed the same Niagara River and had 


settled along Lake Ontario on the fertile lands, bordering on the lake. 
We shall learn later how this same Wardell family in romantic fashion 
was to come in touch with the Griffin family who now in 1787 were 
seeking a new home in Upper Canada. 

Previous to the coming of the Loyalists it may be said that people 
had lived in the Niagara Peninsula, but they were not permanent settlers, 
but rather traders who came to barter with the Indians, remaining for a 
time and then departing. The Loyalists were truly the first permanent 
settlers in the Niagara District. 

Breaking their road as they went they travelled westward up the 
Lake until they came to the Fifteen Mile Pond. These streams empty 
ing into Lake Ontario get their names from the distance which their 
mouths is from the mouth of the Niagara River. Thus the Fifteen Mile 
Creek is fifteen miles from Niagara, the Eighteen Mile Creek a distance 
of eighteen miles, etc. After reaching the Fifteen Mile Pond they found 
that it was impossible to ford at its mouth, so they detoured a consider 
able distance inland until a fording place was reached. After crossing 
the stream it w?s necessary to follow it on the other shore, back to the 
lake which they wanted to follow until a desirable location for settle 
ment could be found. Their progress on this important journey was at 
the rate of three or four miles per day. Following the lake they arrived 
next at the sixteen Mile Pond, where the experience of the Fifteen Mile 
Pond had to be repeated. Undaunted by such difficulties, they pushed 
on, for they now felt that they were truly nearing the Promised Land. 
They began already to forget some of the hardships of their long journey 
as they anticipated their arrival at what was to be their new home. 
There is a fascination about the building of a home, no matter where it 
is created, whether by the pioneer of the forest or by the young people 
in a city apartment. Even the wild tribes of a meagre civilization have 
implanted in their breasts a love of home and a home-fire glow. 

After crossing the Eighteen Mile Pond, they began to think of in 
vestigation and decided that they would camp at the next stream. The 
next one to which they came was the Jordan River. Truly here was a 
suitable stopping place. Like the Israelites of old, they would view the 
promised land. And so at this point they struck camp for an indefinite 
period. This River Jordan or Twenty as it is generally known, had in 
the early days an Indian name, "Kenochdaw," meaning "Lead River." 
Both Indian and white hunters having in days of yore often replenished 
their magazines with this metal along the stream, found mostly at points 
that were afterwards known as Smithville and Morses Rapids. Occasion 
al veins of silver were also found here. 

Several tributary streams empty themselves into the Twenty, the 
largest being the Eight Mile Creek, also the north creek runs through a 
portion of the south part. The mountain called Mount Dorchester by 
Royal proclamation in 1791 lies the length of the district at a distance 
of from one to two miles from the lake. This belt of land forms a gradual 
slope from the mountain to the lake, while along the summit of the 
mountain it is somewhat hilly, sloping off to the south into flat land. 


Along the Twenty Mile Creek the land is beautifully rolling, the soil 
along this stream being black and loamy, in some localities having an 
under-strata of limestone. In the valley of the Twenty, oaks and pines 
grew measuring from five to six feet in diameter and as straight as a 
candle. The oaks were sixty to seventy feet in height and the pines 
from one hundred to one hundred and seventy-five feet. Wild grapes, 
plums, crab apples and berries were in abundance. The wild animals 
were deer, moose, hares, rabbits, woodchucks, wolves, bears, foxes, 
lynx and squirrels. Along the streams the otter, mink and muskrat were 
found. Such was the land in which these home-seekers found them 
selves. The more or less permanent camp having been set up, they 
started to look about. Edward Griffin, better known as Ned, the eldest 
son, and Abraham journeyed up the Jordan to spy out the land. These 
two sons of Richard Griffin had an object in following the winding 
course of the Twenty Mile Creek. The Griffins had formerly been millers 
and they had brought with them two of the old-fashioned grinding 
stones, and were now seeking to locate a homestead where a water power 
was available. Arriving at a point which in their judgment was the 
most suitable location for their purpose, they decided that this was the 
promised land at last. Here they saw the possibilities of a suitable water 
power. The land from the water s edge was gently rising to a level 
stretch, which was chosen as the sight of the first log dwelling. Here 
the land was high and dry, well drained and heavily wooded. The spot 
chosen by these two pioneers was what afterwards became the Village 
of Smithville. Thus we see how circumstances, however trivial, de 
termine where a town, city or village is to spring up. The Griffins 
followed the Twenty because it appeared the most promising of the 
Rivers emptying into the lake. They chose the point along its banks 
at Smithville because of the possibilities of a water power, and the 
favorable surroundings at this point. They may have been influenced, 
too, by a desire to keep a reasonable distance from the lake, as the river 
was their only trail and outlet into the then known Canada. Here 
they worked at clearing the land from the flats to what is now Griffin 
Street, about an acre of ground, choosing this spot for their Jog dwelling. 
The spot where this dwelling was built afterwards became the old Durkey 
homestead, and was owned later by Frank Patterson who lived there. 
This is the lot adjoining the south side of Mr. J. A. Schnick s, on which 
his tailor shop stands at the present time. It was an ideal spot and re 
flects creditably upon the judgment of the Griffins in their choice of a 
home. On Saturday night they followed the winding Twenty to the 
camp at the lake where they reported to interested listeners what they 
had found. The following week Richard and his son Ned journeyed to 
the new home and took up the homestead of eight hundred acres from 
the Crown, which was afterwards known as the Griffin estate. They 
worked hard and in a few days the men had completed the log dwelling 
which will be described in the next chapter. Richard returned to the 
camp and Ned remained for some time alone in the new log house, clear 
ing the land and making rough furniture, such as chairs and tables, out 


of limbs of the forest for the new home. Ned Griffin can truly be called 
the first white settler who resided in Smithvillc. Here alone in the 
forest inhabited only by Indians and wild beasts he dwelt for a time 
until the arrival of the family. Smith Griffin is usually spoken of as the 
founder and first citizen of Smithville, but this honor belongs to his 
elder brother Edward, or Ned, who chose the spot as their home, felled 
the first tree, and was the first dweller in Smithville. Smith Griffin is 
credited with being the first merchant while this honor also belongs to 
Ned, although Smith later on became a merchant, but in the meantime 
he was a miller. 

We are not told which of the other sons at this time were old enough 
to take part in the work of these first few weeks. No doubt Smith, 
Isaiah and Richard, the father, were all busy. Business with the Gov 
ernment land offices, bringing in supplies, investigating other desirable 
locations, etc., would keep them busy. We are not told just what part 
they had in clearing the first acre and building the log house at Smith 
ville, but we assume that each man did faithfully the work assigned to 



Richard Griffin had a good sized family, eleven children, and must 
have a good sized house to accommodate them. He built what was in 
those early days considered a large cabin. It was made of Jogs as lumber 
up to this time could only be made with the whip saw and the crosscut. 
The logs were cut out of the forest, notched, and put into position, log 
upon log, until the side walls were completed. The cracks between the 
logs were filled with a sort of clay mortar. The building was long and 
narrow and of very few rooms. The main room contained the big open 
fireplace, was living room, dining room, kitchen, and for a time, 
bedroom as well. After the log walls were completed the fireplace was 
built, the chimney being constructed of sticks and clay which were re 
placed later by stone and motar. The roof was made of poles covered 
with bark and stuffed with moss and clay. A few pieces of crude furni 
ture made by Ned Griffin, along with some few things which had been 
brought with them across the border, comprised the furnishings of the 
new homes. The few boards which they required for various purposes 
were obtained laboriously by the use of whip-saw and crosscut. Pioneer 
homes in a wooded country are usually built in a clearing, nearly every 
tree, and in many cases the last tree, being cut down about the buildings. 
With forest all about them one can readily understand the desire of the 
settler to build his home where he would have as it were, a breathing 
space, room to stretch, and to get a full view of the sky. The tendency 
is now the opposite, with the wide stretches of open country we build 
our homes among a cluster of trees, and if trees are not available we 
grow them. Thus through all the history of mankind we find his tastes 
his demands, and his resources vary and are subject to constant change 
as one period ushers in another. Walnut logs went into the walls of 
some of the dwellings of those early days that the builder of this gener 
ation would pay dearly to obtain. Choice timber was piled and burned 
in order to clear the land of timber they had an abundance, of work 
able land they had none. It is sad to note in our day that our timber 
lands are fast disappearing and unless the reforestration and conservation 
policy of our Governments are carefully adhered to, we shall have a 
iorestless country. 

The first home of Smithville was now sheltering its first family. 
Soon, however, sons and daughters of Richard Griffin chose homesteads 
of their own and settled down, the forerunners of a sturdy race and a 
prosperous community. During the four years previous to the coming 
of the Griffins, namely 1783 to 1787, settlers had been coming in and the 
British Government had kept commissioners at work enquiring into the 
claims of the Loyalists. $15,000,000 was paid them in indemnities be 
sides the land grants, implements and supplies of food which were is 
sued. In many cases grafters, or human, I should say inhuman parasites, 
who should have distributed harrow teeth, logging chains, etc., with- 


out cost to the settlers, charged them outrageous prices for these much- 
needed supplies. By this time, 1787, the Government was expecting the 
settlers to depend upon their crops and resourcefulness, which, together 
with the assistance already received should enable them to carry on. 
It was at this time that the settlements were called upon to endure the 
greatest hardships in their whole history. In 1787 the crops, meagre at 
best considering the amount of land under cultivation, railed almost 

Those who had not stored up a little provision were faced with 
starvation. This was in the lake region and as the Government had 
undertaken to feed the people for three years only, many were now facing 
a year with scanty food to sustain life. This was known as the hungry 
year. The people were forced to live upon anything that would sustain 
life. Plants, roots and the buds of trees were gathered carefully and 
eaten. Plants that the livestock would eat were considered safe for the 
settlers. Anything which contained nourishment was used for food. 
Roots, plants and nuts were mixed with a sort of bran which made a 
gruel, fish were obtained from the creeks, and while game was plentiful, 
ammunition was scarce, and was used sparingly. In those days they had 
the game and in our generation we have the ammunition, but the gap of 
time cannot be bridged and so the law of supply for a particular period 
says, that each period has its limitations, and rightly so. If all the pos 
sible needs of a generation were supplied, for what would they strive? 
Every bee in the hive of society would be a drone. And so God has 
ordered supply according to need in His own best way. It was a sad 
year for the early settlers and it was a long time before they recovered 
from the sufferings endured for the want of proper food. Some of the 
people died from under nourishment. But a brighter day was dawning 
for them. 1788 saw the wheat heads filling out plump and full and the 
brave hearts took courage, for they could see the end of their sufferings. 
Thus we see how fortunate was the preparation of the Griffins in that 
they brought a year s provision and some livestock with them. These 
hardships were spared them, and they were able to keep strong bodies 
to perform the strenuous work that their first year in Canada demanded. 
During the first year in the history of Smith ville the Griffins were the 
only residents. Their first thought and labor was to clear sufficient land 
on which to grow some crops. The first method used was to dig the 
trees out by the roots, a hard and difficult but effective means of clearing 
the land. Deer and wild turkey were plentiful and furnished many a 
tasty meal for the hard-working pioneers. Some of the early settlers 
used a brush harrow to work up a small patch of land, so that the seed 
might take root. Others used a three-cornered wooden harrow in which 
wooden pegs were driven. With these crude implements the land was 
merely scratched over the surface, but the soil was rich and crops grew, 
in spite of adverse conditions of cultivation. At a later period the 
Government sent out iron harrow teeth and log chains to assist the 
settlers in the cultivation of the land and in hauling the timber. These 
were much prized implements and were of much greater value than land, 


which exchanged hands for a trifle. The crops grown were Indian corn 
and wild rice. The women learned the art of tanning from the Indians 
and were able to make the deerskin soft and pliable, and many a garment 
was made from these skins. Crude moccasins were worn on the feet, 
and though ill-shaped, were warm and comfortable. As soon as leather 
was available, every man made shoes for his own family. These were 
shapeless but comfortable. The women gathered the stalks of the wild 
rice along the river bank and braided this straw into useful hats and 
bonnets which were truly a work of art. Light, serviceable, and of neat 
appearance, they served the need of the time as well and perhaps better, 
than the millinery creations of our own day. At a later period they 
raised their own flax, and hemp and crude handlooms and spinning 
wheels were made. 

The clacking loom and humming spinning wheel could be heard in 
every cabin. Coarse linen was woven and blankets of hemp. Most of 
the summer clothing was made from the home-grown flax, and these 
garments were light and strong. The tow or waste product of the flax 
served a useful purpose, being made into rope and halters. Men s trousers 
of linen were said to wear like iron and the tablecloths and towels served 
a useful purpose. These thrifty people worked from sunrise to sunset 
at their regular daily tasks and then, after the evening meal, the spinning 
wheels were put in motion, and before the open fire-place mother and 
daughters worked on the family wardrobe in order that all might be 
comfortably clad. Their light at first depended largely upon the glow 
from the fireplace. They also made a crude candle in the following 
manner: several strands of cotton warp were twisted together, this was 
placed over a kettle of hot grease which was poured over the wick or 
dipped; this was allowed to cool and more grease was added until the 
candle was large enough to serve their purpose as a means of light. Sev 
eral years later the candle moulds came into use and were as welcome to 
the average household as a grand piano is today. To strike a light they 
used a flint, a piece of punk and a steel, striking the flint with the steel 
produced a spark which ignited the punk. The first matches which were 
sold in Smithville were retailed at 10 cents each, it is more than likely 
that smokers of that day used a coal to light their pipes. Ontario wolves 
being fond of Canadian sheep, made it difficult to produce wool, but after 
a time some wool was produced. In the spring the men sheared the 
sheep and the wool was carded by hand and made into rolls, which the 
women of the household spun on a large spinning wheel into woollen 
yarn. This was then woven into full cloth, from which the garments 
were made, thus the whole process from shearing the sheep, and plant 
ing the flax, to the finished garments which they wore, was the result 
of the skill of their own hands, and was an achievement of which they 
could be justly proud. By this time some wheat was grown on the few 
patches of cleared land, and the happy harvesters with sickle in hand 
went forth to cut the first crop of golden wheat on Canadian soil. 

Compared with present methods of harvesting this was a slow 
method of cutting grain, but from whatever angle we consider the life 


and time of these early settlers, we find that their wants and needs were 
more simple and fewer than our own. We also find that the ability to 
supply practically all their household needs lie within their own powers. 
In our own time we can scarcely live a day without a hundred needs 
being supplied directly or indirectly by others. The great cause of an 
xiety, unhappiness, and frenzied endeavour is the multiciplicity of needs, 
the complex nature of our social structure, and the growing tendency of 
all classes to demand more pleasure, more leisure, more comfort and 
luxury. Take for example the up-to-date house-furnishing establish 
ments whose show-rooms contain hundreds of different pieces of furni 
ture, some useful, some ornamental, and some whose usefulness or beauty 
we cannot discover. In every other establishment supplying the present 
demands of men, (I say demands , as many of them are not needs), we 
find the same supply catering to every need, wish, and whim of modern 
man. The grain was threshed with a flail, every grain being carefully 
gathered and on the first windy day they proceeded to clean it. As 
there were no fanning mills at that time a blanket was fastened to two 
poles and the grain thrown against the blanket. The grain dropped to 
the ground and the chaff blew away. 

The next process was to grind the grain and the first method used 
was to crush it between two stones, a slow and unsatisfactory way. 
Soon the "Hominy Block" was introduced, which was made as follows: 
A hardwood stump four feet through was selected, in the top of which 
a hollow space was burned, large enough to hold about a bushel of grain. 
Here the grain was pounded with a wooden Plumper Sometimes a stone 
on the end of a pole or Sweep took the place of the Plumper. The 
Hominy Block being unsatisfactory, many of the settlers carried their 
wheat on their backs, down the Twenty shore to the lake and thence 
to Niagara Falls, where a windmill was operated. This was a long and 
hard journey, and required some thought and planning before it was 
undertaken. The grain was carefully cleaned and placedin a bag, to be 
carried on the back during the long journey by foot. The wife would 
prepare a hot wholesome meal for the men, a sort of bread cakes were 
baked to supply them with food on the journey. Arriving at Niagara 
Falls the miller s wife would bake enough cakes out of the grist for the 
return journey. Soon, however, these grists were taken on horseback 
through a trail to Niagara Village where a grist mill was in operation. 

Smith Griffin, the enterprising business head of Richard Griffin s 
family, had not forgotten the millstones brought from the American 
Colony, and he now proceeded to build a tread mill, Smithville s first 
industry, built by the man after whom the village was named. We 
shall hear more of Smith Griffin later on. Farmers who brought their 
grists to Smith s mill to be ground were required to furnish the necessary 
power to turn the stones by putting their oxen on the tread mill. 

The year 1788 saw a good harvest and the despair and suffering of 
the hungry year were dispelled. What a change has taken place since 
those early days of our Forefathers a failure of the scanty crops meant 
almost famine. The land which then contained a few scattered farmers 


sowing a few pecks of wheat, has become the greatest wheat exporting 
country in the world. The exportable surplus of wheat on August i, 
19x1 of the principal exporting countries of the world shows Canada with 
a surplus of 311,000,000 bushels, United States, 305,000,000 bushels; 
British India, 3 7,000,000 bushels; Agentina, zo,ooo,ooo bushels; Australia, 
33,000,000 bushels, and other countries 19,000,000 bushels. These 
figures do not include the wheat used by these countries for home con 

These men who cut down the forest, opened roads, and pioneered 
the Canadian wilderness, are the men who made possible this achieve 
ment of our Canada of today among the wheat exporting countries of 
the world. They gave us, however, a greater heritage than wheat 
(Bolsheviks can grow wheat) they gave us a race, sturdy, strong, and 
loyal, the strength of the British race wherever it is found. 

Up to this time, 1788, there were no new settlers in Smithville, but 
the following year four more families came, one of them bearing the name 
of Myers, who lived at St. Anns at a later date. 

In 1790 eight more settlers came and in 1791 the McColloms came, 
settling along the north creek on the old McCollom homestead, on which 
the late Jasper McCollom, a descendant, lived. 

Up to this time there were scarcely any roads. The streams were 
the only highways with here and there a bridle-path, or bush trail. It 
was often miles to the nearest neighbor, and through forest. The com 
mon hardships made these people as brothers, as they had a warm feeling 
of comradeship, and a settler never asked a fellow pioneer for help with 
out receiving it. There was a feeling of neighborhness, a code or honor 
a hospitality, the ethics of the pioneer days that has never been equalled 
or surpassed. 

About this time began the system of bees or frolics. There were 
chopping frolics, logging bees, building bees, framing bees, and 
husking bees. When a new homestead was to be raised, along the roads 
and blazed trails came the men of the neighborhood. On such occa 
sions they made merry and feasted on venison, wild turkey, wild fruit 
pies, and smoking Johnny cake. And what appetites! No one has such 
an appetite in our day. 

We do not breath the aroma of pine-scented forest, with the crisp 
snow banked to the sill of our sleeping room window; the air cold and 
frosty. In 1790 there was from four to five feet of snow and Lake On 
tario was frozen over. At such occasions as bees and frolics, the dishes 
used were usually of wood, being made of white poplar. Little by little 
these wooden utensils were replaced by pewter, purchased from time to 
time from Yankee peddlars. 

In summing up the life of the very early settler, we may conclude 
that he lived a life almost entirely self-contained. Equipped with axe, 
sickle and flail, with spinning wheel and iron kettle, he and his wife 
grew the wheat, corn and potatoes, made the soap, the candles and the 
maple sugar, the deerskin shoes and homespun cloth. They had little 
to buy or sell. The barrels of potash and pearlash, leached out from the 


ashes of their hardwood forest clearing, were the chief source of ready 
money. Transport was very limited. The blazed trail was followed by 
the corduroy road, built of logs and the most bumpy road that was 
ever travelled. The pack-horse was followed by the lumbering stage, 
over these roads. Currency was very limited and barter was the rule. 
Such were the conditions existing when our forefathers laid the founda 
tion of our native village. 



As previously stated the Griffins located a homestead of 800 acres. 
At the present time there are living on the Griffin property the following 
descendants of Richard Griffin, namely, Mr. Isaac Wardell, Mr. W. F. H. 
Patterson, Mr. John Woodruf Hill. 

Let us follow briefly the early activities of some members of this 
interesting family, the Griffins. Smith Griffin was a younger son of 
Richard Griffin and was an enterprising young man possessed of con 
siderable business ability. His mother was a Smith from which family 
he received his Christian name. His wife was a sister of Solomon Hill 
and his sister, Bethiar Griffin, was Solomon Hill s wife. He was the 
grandfather of the Rev. Wm. S. Griffin, who in i9iz, was stationed in 
Toronto, one of Canada s ablest Methodist ministers. 

If we analyze the word Smithville we find that it contains the idea 
of Smith-Ville or Smith-Village, deriving its name from Smith Griffin. 
Smith s Village, as we know it in its abbreviated form, becomes Smith 
ville. Smith Griffin was not only a thrifty, capable business man, but 
a God-fearing citizen of splendid character and reputation for honest 
dealing. The Griffins soon became one of the most widely known and 
most highly respected families in District No. Six. I say District, 
as the Townships were not formed at this time, but were divided into 
Districts of which North and South Grimsby comprised District No. 
Six. Smith Griffin in 1810, as previously stated, started a tread mill 
for grinding wheat. Now anxious to utilize the water of the Twenty 
Mile Creek, he built a dam to hold back the water and ran his stone mill 
by this power. It was no longer necessary that the farmers oxen should 
furnish the power to turn the stones. Thus we see another step in the 
development of milling. Many changes and improvements were to 
follow before we could have the modern equipped mill of which Smith 
ville can now boast. But Smith was taking a step in the right direction . 
His mill was located near the sight of the present mill. The next enter- 
prize in which he became engaged was that of a saw mill which he built 
across the Twenty from his grist mill and near the sight of the Samuel 
Woodlan foundry but nearer the stream This was also operated by 
water power. This saw-mill supplied the lumber with which log build 
ings were replaced or improved and was the beginning of the construc 
tion of more modern homes in the locality. He also started an ashery 
which was the most important industry of that day in rural communi 
ties. He manufactured soda and shipped it by the barrel to Montreal, 
At this time Smith and Ned Griffin started a general store in Smithville, 
the only one in the village for several years to follow. Thanel and Isaiah 
helped Smith to operate the two mills and Ned the store. The farmers 
of the district sold their pork and beef to the Griffins in exchange for the 
goods they required, a form of barter, which was practiced by the fur 
companies in trading with the Indians, and a system used largely in rural 


districts at this early time before currency came into general use. The 
large merchants controlled trade, exchange, and were the bankers of the 
country. The Griffins sent these products by sleigh to Montreal, bring 
ing a load of goods back for the store. The return trip occupied six 
weeks time. Calico which cost a shilling in Montreal, sold for four 
shillings in Smithville. Considering the distance which was required 
to haul these goods, the price was not exorbitant. At a later period 
sailing vessels came from Montreal to points along Lake Ontario from 
which shipment to and from Montreal were made. It was then that 
Smith Griffin cut a road through the forest to the Thirty mountain, to 
facilitate the transfer of his goods to and from the lake. 

As roads opened up Smith also started a branch store in Canboro. 
The clerks in the Smithville store for a time were Abishia Morse and 
Captain Waddel. Ned at this time became a farmer and settled on what 
afterwards became the Joe Trembley place, at the end of Canboro Street, 
where Mr. Hanson Gracey now lives. 

While Smith had these several businesses in operation, and con 
trolled practically all the trade of the district, financial disaster was 
overtaking him. After sustaining heavy losses he and his family moved 
to Brantford, leaving the village which his thrift and perseverance had 
built, and settled on a two hundred acre farm. It was here that Smith 
Griffin died. All that remains in Smithville as a memorial of her first 
merchant and industrial leader, the son of her first pioneer family, is the 
village name and the memory in the hearts of her citizens of the sterling 
qualities of one of her first sons. 

Richard Griffin and his wife, Smith s father and mother, spent the 
remainder of their days in Smithville, having raised a family of eleven 
children who were indeed a credit to their name. These sturdy old 
Loyalist Pioneers were buried in Smithville s first cemetery, situated 
near where the Post Office now stands on Griffin Street. 

Edward Griffin, or Ned, as he was known in his own time continued 
to farm in Smithville and was a useful respected citizen. He died at the 
age of 98 and was buried in the Methodist Cemetery at Smithville. His 
tombstone still marks his resting place and the inscription reads as fol 
lows : 

Edward Griffin, died August i)th, 1860. Age 98 years. 

I trust that this brief story of Edward Griffin s life, and the fact that 
he was Smithville s first white inhabitant, that he felled the first tree, 
chose the village site, built the first house and was its first occupant, 
that he cleared the first acre of land, lived his entire life from early 
manhood in Smithville, was a God-fearing, honest Loyalist, I say, I 
trust that these facts will inspire the citizens of our native village, and 
his, to raise a monument, over his last resting place, as a memorial of 
his work and life. It is fitting that the name of his brother, Smith, also 
appear on such a memorial as the builder of the village and the one after 
whom it was named. 



In 1734, Joseph Wardell was born in Carnarvon, Wales. In 
being of age, he journeyed to London and joined the British Navy in 
which he served for seven years, after which he came to New York. 
Shortly after his arrival in America he settled on a farm in east Jersey, 
where he married Elizabeth Parker, a native of that place. For twenty 
years he and his good wife labored in Jersey, during which time the 
Revolutionary War had been fought, he and his two sons having fought 
with the Loyalists, one son, Goliah, being killed during the struggle. 
In 1785 not wishing to endure longer the persecution of the Americans, 
he and his family migrated to Canada. They came in a large covered 
wagon drawn by six horses and drove their cattle before them. Cross 
ing the Niagara River at Niagara Village, as did the Griffins two years 
later, they followed the lake shore, crossed the Jordan and located a 
four hundred acre homestead two miles west of the river, having spent 
six months in making the journey. Joseph lived and labored on this 
homestead for ten years and died in 1794 at the age of sixty-one years. 
At his death his son Isaac received two hundred acres of the original 
homestead. Having a farm in his own name, Isaac now was in need of 
a wife, and he obtained one under rather romantic circumstances. Isaac 
was an enthusiastic hunter and trapper. One day, with a pack of traps 
on his back, he was out on one of his hunting expeditions, and following 
the river to Smithville, he came unexpectedly upon a bright-eyed, rosy- 
cheeked lass on a fishing expedition of her own. She was fishing for 
fish, and Isaac was hunting for game; they both made a catch. This 
chance acquaintance ripened into friendship and later into love, and thus 
a day came in 1796 when a wedding was held at the home of Richard 
Griffin in Smithville, when Mary (Polly) Griffin, his daughter, became 
the bride of Isaac Wardell. At that wedding there would be Isaiah 
Griffin, Smith Griffin, and his wife (Solomon Hill s sister), Edward 
Griffin, Solomon Hill and his wife Bethiar Hill (Richard Griffin s daught 
er), Solomon Hill s sons, Willian and Abraham, the brothers and sisters 
of Isaac Wardell and also younger members of both families. Their 
wedding trip consisted of a walk from Smithville, along the Twenty 
Creek to the lake, and up the shore to their new home. They were 
blessed with ten children. These were the days of large families. Rich 
ard Griffin had eleven children, Solomon Hill had twelve, Isaac Wardell 
ten, and Nathaniel Hill nine children. Aunt Polly Wardell, as she was 
known by her relatives, carried her first baby Solomon in her arms from 
her home on the lake shore to her parents home in Smithville on a visit. 
For many years Uncle Isaac and Aunt Polly lived on the old homestead 
and finally moved near Smithville, where they lived for fifteen years, 
after which they moved to Smoky Hollow, near St. Catharines. As 
they grew old, they gave up their Smoky Hollow home and went to 
live with their son Isaiah at Merritt Settlement. Aunt Polly, like many 


dear old women of her time, enjoyed smoking her pipe. Some of the 
younger women of those early days learned to smoke from lighting the 
pipe for mother or grandmother. On one of her visits to the home of 
her nephew, Nathaniel Hill, she laid her pipe on the window sill and a 
live coal fell upon the sill and burned a hole into it. This may still be 
seen in the old cottage home now occupied by Nathaniel Hill s son, John 
W. Hill, at Smithville. Aunt Polly was born in Tarrytown, New York 
State, in 1778. She died in 1873 at l ^ e a e f ninety-five. She was a 
kind-hearted, Christian woman, who livea to a ripe old age, and saw 
many children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, grow up, upon 
whom she bestowed her love and care. Isaiah, the third son of Isaac, 
and Aunt Polly married Elizabeth Tinline Gulp. They had three child 
ren, Cyrus, Jim and Isaac. The latter is still living in Smithville, at the 
age of ninety-one years, Smithville s second oldest citizen, and the oldest 
living descendant of the Griffin family. He has been a life-long member 
of the Disciple Church, able and active in its councils. At the Wardell 
reunion from a well-stored memory, he gave the descendants of Isaac 
Wardell, stirring accounts of the life and work of their forefathers. He 
was for many years a successful drover and farmer. In 1855 he married 
Isabell Meridith and they lived together for sixty-five years. Reminisc 
ing, Mr. Wardell says "The year following the Crimean War, wheat 
dropped from two dollars to seventy-five cents per bushel." Thus we 
see that the conditions following the World War are but a repetition of 
those following the great struggle in the Crimean. He said further: "I 
can remember when fifty acres of land changed hands for a pound of 
tobacco." In those days he said coffins were made by cabinet makers 
for four dollars. A neighbor s wagon supplied the hearse and neighbors 
spades dug the grave. Mr. Wardell is hale and hearty at the age of 
ninety-one, has a splendid memory, and his intellect is as clear as that of 
most men half his age. It is a real pleasure to spend a few hours with 
him in conversation, for he loves to talk of the old days. He is without 
doubt, the best-posted man, living, on the history of Smithville, and her 
pioneer settlers. 



As we review the lives of some of the later generation of Smithville 
citizens, we recall many whose fathers or grandfathers were the pioneers 
of the district. They were hardy, staunch and true as the giant oaks 
which fell before the razor edge of their axes, swung with arms strong 
and willing. The sons of these pioneers are now tilling well-cleared, 
cultivated fields, with modern machinery, and modern methods of agri 
culture. But occasionally we meet one who has been but slightly in 
fluenced by modern thought and methods, a farmer of the old school, 
who not only continues to use many of the methods of his forefathers 
and emulates their sterling qualities of heart and head, men whose code 
of honor, homespun philosophy, and rural simplicity, might well be 
followed by many men of our own time. 

One or such type lived near Smithville, on the old homestead farm 
situated half a mile from the village. The house was built in old cottage 
style and was surrounded by honeysuckle and lilacs. The interior was 
laid out in large rooms, with high ceilings, each room containing a large 
fire-place, before which James Harvey Griffin, nicknamed "Harvey Dick," 
and his ancestors had toasted their shins and frozen their backs for over 
a century. The furniture was old-fashioned, which gave the place an 
added charm. The greatest charm of the place, however, was Harvey, 
its sole occupant, a bachelor of medium height, with a body round and 
plump and a grey beard which formed a half-moon frame for a round, 
smiling, kindly face, with two mild blue eyes which blinked merrily. 
A word as to his ancestry will be of interest to the reader. Richard 
Griffin, Smithville s first citizen, referred to in former chapters, had a 
son, the youngest of the family whose name was also Richard. His son 
was Richard the 6th, in a direct line and he was the father of James 
Harvey Griffin. Adjoining Harvey s house was an orchard, in which 
grew strawberry Pippins, Seek-no-furthers, and the yellowest harvest 
apples I have ever seen. There was also a huge black cherry tree in the 
orchard, the strength of whose every limb I have tested, and beyond the 
orchard was a hundred acre farm, dotted here and there with hickory 
trees, completes the picture. The old gentleman was a friend to all the 
small boys. A timid knock at the door and a polite request gave them 
access to the apples or cherries in their seasons, or all the hickory nuts 
they cared to gather. 

One cold winter day a fire broke out in the dwelling of a poor family 
in the village. It was the home of an old couple, both past three score 
and ten years. Attracted by the excitement of the fire, boy-like, I was 
present. The building was still burning when I arrived, but I learned 
that James Harvey Griffin had been there already, with his team of sorrel 
colts which he always drove with halters and bits, and usually at a gal 
lop. The colts were hitched to a big jumper sleigh, with a painted box 
and curved sides which made it resemble a huge old-fashioned cradle. 



Harvey usually sat in the bottom of this box, which was partly filled 
with straw, and called at his team, as they galloped on a tight rein, 
"Hipjulee," "Hip, Hip, Julee." He had brought his sympathy for this 
old couple wrapped up in a bag of flour, a ham and a load of wood. I 
have seen him leave the village store for home with a big bag of oranges 
and before he had reached the end of the street this bag was empty. He 
had met friends of his boyhood, he had met children, and the oranges 
that he intended to take home had faded away, but his smile had broad 
ened and his eyes had a brighter twinkle. Dear, generous, kind-hearted 
old man; he was the worthy son of a worthy sire. Why do I call his 
father, Richard the 6th, a worthy sire. We shall see. Yankee Jones 
was ill with an incurable disease. His family had little with which to 
provide fuel and food. A heavy snow-storm visited the district after 
which the termometer fell several degrees. Richard Griffin and his son 
Harvey were in the village and Richard had a burning curiosity to peek 
into Yankee Jones s barn. Whether Harvey knew the cause of this 
curiosity we cannot say, but at any rate, they stole unobserved to the 
back of Yankee s barn and peeked in. It was here that Yankee kept his 
wood, when he had any. A few sticks only could be seen by the observ 
ers. Richard hurried the team home, but they did not stop at the barn 
as usual, but went on to the bush at the back of the farm. Here a gener 
ous load of wood was piled on the sleighs and Harvey was sent back to 
Yankee Jones s barn, and not empty handed. In the morning Yankee s 
family discovered that they had good hard wood for the severe weather 
that followed. Richard Griffin had this habit of peeking into the wood 
sheds of poor people, in severe weather, or in cases of sickness. I strongly 
believe that these two men were peeking into more than an empty wood 
shed in these visits; I believe they were peeking into Heaven. Many a 
bag of potatoes and of flour found their way into the kitchens of poor 
homes. When Richard and his son measured grain for sale they rounded 
the measure and then threw on a shovelful to make sure that there was a 
bushel. I heard a man of seventy years of age, still a resident of Smith- 
ville, speaking of Richard Griffin, say: "He was the finest man that ever 
lived in Smithville." The philosophy of these men as they lived it may 
be summed up as follows: 

A man s word should be as good as his bond. 

A true neighbor is one who knows how, and when, to lend a helping hand. 

A handshake should be a warm clasp, prompted by a warm heart, rather 
than a limp formality. 

The foundation of refinement is an inherited gentility rather than an ac 
quired polish. 



At the Village of St. Anns, situated three miles east of Smith villc 
along the Jordan River, lived Jacob Fisher, of Pennsylvania, Dutch 
origin, and his wife, who was a Cline. He ruled his household 
with an iron will and his word was law in his home. Like the average 
Penn Dutchman he had strict religious views and habits and believed 
in the admonition Do not, Thou shah not, as a cure for all the problems 
of life. His family were expected to obey his every will and whim and 
while he believed that they did so, they on the other hand had no in 
tention of regarding his law as final. He had three sons, Peter, James and 
John and all three loved hunting and fishing better than working in their 
father s tannery. They were good hunters each of them being a splendid 
shot. These men who were my father s uncles, used to visit at my home 
about twice a year, staying from two to three days. Those were great 
events in my boyhood life, as these old men lived in their past and the 
conversation was of early days, and of their early life. Deer and bear 
stories held me in rapt attention. These three brothers at this time were 
all over seventy years of age. One of them lived to be past eighty and 
the other two over ninety years of age. They were strong, stalwart 
sons of pioneer days who retained their health and mental powers at 
these aovanced ages. Jacob Fisher also had three daughters, Mary 
(Polly), Sarah and Katherine. It was said that these girls would never 
marry as Jacob would not allow the young men to keep company with 
them. No one seemed to be the right one to court old Jacob s daughters, 
and few got the chance to do so unless it was unknown to their father. 

These girls were full of life and loved the out-of-doors, the forest, 
and all things of Nature. They could handle a gun or ride a horse with 
out a saddle and at a gallop. Here were six young people with blood 
coursing through their veins, living a life in tune with nature. Jacob 
their father, however, could not reconcile this coursing of young blood 
to his idea of fatherly authority and religious piety. He, like many a 
father of certain races and times, and even some of our own time, did not 
or would not grasp the truth, that young blood must have its course, 
and that if the bit is kept too tight at home the young will have their 
blowing off of steam, away from home; and here begins deception. Their 
recreation and amusement is without home guidance, as the home is 
kept in the dark as to these doings. But these young Fishers were by 
no means spoiled in this way. Their pleasures were harmless and natural, 
and had no evil results in after years. 

On what is now the Jerry Taylor property then known as Middle- 
port, lived one Samuel Page, a Taylor, a down-East Yankee of English 
parentage, and his wife, Hannah Cornnell. They had seven children, 
one son being James Dowlin Page, born in the United States in the year 
1801. James was serving his apprenticeship in the Tannery of Jacob 
Fisher at St. Anns, being a fellow worker with the three Fisher boys. 


Jim Page, a lad of twenty, spent much of his leisure time with the 
Fisher boys and they became warm friends. In due time he became ac 
quainted with the three Fisher girls. Mary, or Polly as she was generally 
known, with her rosy cheeks and happy disposition, appealed to the 
romantic side of young Jim s nature. He encountered the usual opposi 
tion of Jacob Fisher, her father, and like the other suitors, had to meet 
Polly secretly, or at best, very rarely with her father s knowledge and 
consent. A regular correspondence was kept up between these two, 
with Polly s brother John acting as mail carrier. Many a happy even 
ing was spent by the young people of which Jacob knew very little. 
Polly s sisters, as well as her brothers, were fond of Jim, and made it as 
convenient as possible for these young people to meet. Soon the friend 
ship of Jim and Polly ripened into love, and Polly s father heard from 
time to time of frequent meetings which aroused his suspicion and in 
creased his antagonism, and at the same time his watchfulness. 

He gathered together all of Polly s best clothes, and belongings and 
as a precaution, locked them where she could not obtain them. It was 
then that Polly and Jim planned to outwit the old gentleman. Polly 
her sister Sarah, and Jim attended a religious meeting, and as the three 
slowly walked homeward, Jim appeared sad and in a reflective mood. 
"Polly," he said, "for some reason your father does not like me, and is 
strongly opposed to our friendship, while I do not know the cause of his 
opposition, I do not feel that we should longer oppose his will. While 
your friendship has been one of the brightest spots in my life, yet we 
must remember that Jacob Fisher is your father and his wishes must be 
considered." "Yes, Jim, while I feel that all you say may be true, you 
surely know that father opposes his daughters going out with any of 
the young men who feel disposed to be friendly with them. Do you really 
mean, Jim, that we must no longer be friends?" 

"Not just that, my dear Polly. I trust we may always be friends, 
and I appreciate the friendly co-operation of your brothers and sisters. 
I trust that we shall all remain friends, but I think it is for the best that 
you and I should part as close friends, and that I should meet you as I 
do your sisters, as an acquaintance only." 

"Perhaps," said Sarah, jokingly, "it is Jim s wish as well as father s 
that you should adopt such a plan." 

"God forbid," said Jim. "I am not following my heart now, but 
my head. I feel that these secretive meetings are very unsatisfactory." 

"Well, Jim," replied Polly, "you know best. Perhaps, after all, 
we are wrong in opposing father s wishes." 

"Let this be our last secret meeting then, Polly dear," said Jim with 
his arm about her waist, and a tremor in his voice. 

Thus they parted, and Sarah was the only one who actually shed 
any tears that night. The following day when opportunity offered, 
Sarah informed her father of what had taken place the previous night, 
and Jacob was well pleased. He now unlocked Polly s clothes and be 
longings and fully believed that Jim had given her up. 


He became less watchful of Polly, whose plans were carefully laid. 
It was wash day and Polly s turn to perform that task. She had a twinkle 
in her eye and yet at times a serious expression might have been dis 
covered in her countenance had anyone been observing her closely. 

The clothes were hung out to dry and after the evening meal, Polly 
proceeded to bring them in from the lines. 

An armful was carried in and taken upstairs, after which she quietly 
crept into her room where sundry garments and belongings were piled 
in hasty confusion. Raising the window softly she tossed an armful of 
clothing out of it. After this rather unusual performance, she went 
down the stairs and out to the lines to gather in more of the morning s 
washing. This she took upstairs and repeated the former proceeding 
at the open window. Below this window was a young man whose 
heart was thumping so loudly that he could hear the pulsations ,and he 
imagined that everyone in the Fisher home could hear it distinctly. He 
was sure that every sound he heard was Jacob Fisher approaching from 
the house. Listen! What was that sound? Were the well-laid plans to 
be frustrated at the last minute? He crouched in the shadow of a big 
bush and waited. Soon a cat was seen scurrying across the yard, and 
Jim breathed again. He was sure he had never heard so many sounds 
real or imaginary in so short a time before. And yet, what was but a 
few minutes, seemed hours to him. The clothes which Polly had tossed 
out of the window had been received by his waiting arms, all except a 
pair of shoes which caught in the branches of a tall lilac bush, and re 
mained to tell the tale of their departure. Jim hurried home with his 
bundle of clothes, having crossed the bridge and followed the road to 
his father s house. Polly was to cross the ice of the Twenty Creek and 
join him at his home a mile and a half distant. 

When the young man arrived home, the first question which he asked 
his mother was as to whether Polly had yet arrived. His mother, ever 
ready for a bit of fun, shook her head, and Jim was about to rush back 
to find her, fearing she might have been overtaken, or that she might have 
broken through the ice. His mother told him to place Polly s belong 
ings in a certain closet, and as he opened the door out stepped Polly, with 
a smiling face. 

Jim owned a horse, his only possession; another was borrowed from 
a neighbor. Both were saddled and bridled and waiting for the young 
couple to start on their journey. Mounting, they rode to Niagara Falls, 
N.Y., where they were married. Jim was twenty-one years of age and 
Polly was eighteen. After the marriage ceremony they returned to 
Canada, staying at a tavern until morning. 

Jacob Fisher had the surprise of his life on the following morning, 
when the tell-tale shoes were discovered hanging to the lilac bush and 
Polly s absence was discovered. Taking his shotgun from its holder he 
strutted about, declaring that he would shoot man, beast or the devil. 

The people in the village were glad to hear that one of Jacob s 
daughters had been captured, and the distillery rolled a barrel of whiskey 


out of its doors and invited the men to help themselves, and many that 
day drank Polly Fisher s good health and happiness. 

Upon their return, Jim traded his horse for a team of oxen, after 
which he took up one hundred acres of land at Burlington. He worked 
with a surveying party and cultivated his land with his team of oxen, 
and with Polly s help they prospered. About this time Polly s sister 
Katherme became ill and died. The family were afraid to approach the 
father about Polly s return, but Jim Page s mother did not fear the old 
man and she suggested to him that he send for Polly without asking Jim 
to return. 

The result was that Jim and Polly both came to the funeral. Jacob 
relented somewhat and decided that he would give Polly a present. I 
presume he did not call it a wedding present; it was just a present, a sort 
of peace offering. He said: "I am going to make Polly a present of a 
sheep as soon as I get its wool sheared off. " A short time later Jim Page 
and his wife came to Smithville, where they purchased three hundred 
acres of land near the Twenty Mile Creek on which a son and son-in-law, 
namely, Calvin Page and John Davis, Sr., now live. 

Here he started a tannery, a shoe shop where several shoe makers 
were employed and a blacksmith shop, as well as farming his land. 
About this time Jim was made a Deacon in the Baptist Church at Beams- 
ville, where he and his family attended divine service, and he was known 
during the reaminder of his life as Deacon Page. Old settlers still 
speak of him as Deacon. This young raw-boned Down-East Yankee, 
who had dared to snatch away one of Jacob Fisher s daughters, prosper 
ed. He had twenty horses, a good flock of sheep, and a herd of cattle 
besides his business ventures. 

Jacob Fisher, his father-in-law, relented, and often visited Jim and 
his family when attending quarterly meeting in the old Methodist 
Church. He used to weep and apologize to his son-in-law for the way 
he had treated him as a young man, but Jim said, "I ll just let him cry 
a bit; it will do him good." 

Jacob spoke of Jim as one of the best sons he had, and the happiest 
relationship existed between the families during the remainder of their 
days. A tribute to the life of Jim Page was paid by a pioneer who knew 
him well in these words: "He was a loyal Canadian citizen, who always 
said he loved the land of his adoption. He was a grand man whose 
encouragement was worth more than some people s money. When he 
spoke in public he was on the side of justice and fair play. He was a 
jolly, Christian man, congenial and good company for young and old. 
He was most cordial in his home, joked with his family and provided in 
abundance. He was a loving father, but had a stern look and rebuke 
which commanded respect and obedience. I loved him as a father and 
yet no blood tie bound us together." Such is the tribute paid 
to Deacon Page by one who knew him as few men did. 

Jim and Polly raised three sons, Alfred, the father of the writer, 
Calvin, who still lives on the old homestead, and James, who as a young 
man went to the State of Kansas, where he died. His descendants still 


live in the United States. Deacon Page also had several daughters, 
warm-hearted, Christian women, who are all dead but one, Mrs. Calvin 
Patterson, now over eighty years of age, who lives at Smithville. 

When Deacon Page purchased the old home at Smithville, many 
Chippewa Indians roamed the forests. They were spoken of as Grand 
River Indians, who had a trail from Smithville to the Grand River. The 
Deacon allowed these Indians to remain on the uncleared land, but as 
time went on and the land became cleared nearer to the back of the farm 
he had to ask them to move on. They were peaceable and quiet and 
never gave him any trouble. Jim s mother who outlived two husbands, 
her second one, a House, lived in a separate home near her son on his 
farm. Here she died. Besides raising a large family the Deacon took 
two poor boys to raise, one Eli Doan and the other Jim Parker, who was 
of low mentality. 

At the time of the American War Canadian men of the latter type 
were taken over the line, innocent of the purpose of their journey. Here 
they induced them to become intoxicated in which condition they were 
signed up in the army and when they sobered up the following day they 
discovered that they were soldiers in the American army. It is said 
that these heartless recruiters received as high as six hundred dollars for 
the men they secured in this way. Jim Parker was allured in this way 
into the American army and went through the campaign without a 
scratch. He received his discharge and a roll of bills which he soon 
gave away. He returned to his home at Deacon Page s and furnished a 
great deal of fun for the men about the place. With a stick for a gun, 
Jim would show his audience how they charged in the army and it was 
well to keep out of his way, as he made it as real as possible. Fifty-five 
years ago July ist, Dominion Day was celebrated in Smithville for the 
first time, and among other features they had a Calithumpian parade. 
Jim Parker had a dread of Fenians and the boys were ever playing tricks 
on him in which Fenians usually figured. To start Jim for home at his 
fastest gait all that was necessary was to call Fenians. On the evening 
of the celebration, Jim was at the home of Nathaniel Hill, across the 
Twenty Creek from Deacon Page s. One of the boys still dressed in his 
Calithumpian costume and carrying a shot-gun, came to the door of Mr. 
Hill s home and asked if a man by the name of Parker was there. The 
girl who opened the door, scenting the fun, said that he was. "The 

D fool," said Jim. "Well, I want him," said the man with the 

gun, and Jim bolted for the back door, and ran for home. When visitors 
were leaving Deacon Page s home Jim would say, "Well, give my best 
bcspects to the folks at home." Another character who worked for 
Deacon Page was a Scotch shoemaker, who took pride in his name, 
which he said was William Maxwell Gordon Drummond, which left 
no doubt as to his nationality. It was said that he had been an old sea 
pirate. He died in Smithville and was buried in the Methodist cemetery 
His epitaph, which he wrote himself, was as follows: 


My name, my country, what are they to thee, 
Whether high or low my pedigree. 
Suffice it stranger, thou seest a tomb. 
Thou knowest it hides no matter whom. 

And so Polly and Jim lived happily, surrounded by their children, 
absorbed in useful labor, and devoted to a Christian service, until Jim 
reached the age of sixty, when he crossed the Silent River, leaving be 
hind an unblemished name to his posterity. 

His wife lived to the age of 83. Polly Fisher, an aged widow and 
mother, peacefully slept away, sitting in her old armchair. 



Before recording the minutes of the first council meetings held in 
North and South Grimsby a few words of explanation will enable the 
reader to better understand the records, as they have been handed down 
from early days. In 1790 the Townships of North and South Grimsby 
did not exist, but the area covered by these two Townships was then 
known as District or Township number six. The different districts 
up to this time were designated by number. The reader will understand 
that all resolutions and appointments which are recorded applied to dis 
trict No. 6 as a whole and that Smithville and Grimsby villages both 
came under these regulations. It will also be observed that the appoint 
ments were made to citizens of both villages. Pioneer names familiar 
to the citizens of Grimsby and Smithville will be found. Where these 
meetings were held we are not told, except that some of them were held 
at the house of John Green, who came from New Jersey in 1781, and 
lived on Lot 10, Concession i. Livestock in those early days was allow 
ed to run at large and it was necessary as a result of this that each owner 
of stock have a private mark or brand. This mark was recorded in the 
books of the Clark so that stray animals could be claimed by their right 
ful owners. We give below the minutes of these first meetings held in 
District Number Six. We may add that the penmanship in this early 
record is excellent and the ink used has retained its color and is easily 

At a meeting of the inhabitants of Township Number Six this fifth 
day of April, 1790 at the house of John Green, according to an order 
from court and an advertisement for that purpose, the following persons 
were elected into the offices annexed to their names and presentea to the 
Honorable Court for their confirmation: 

John Moore Clark. 

John Beamer Constable. 

Levi Lewis Overseer of Poor. 

John Green, Levi Lewis Overseers of Roads. 

John Pettitt, Levi Lewis Viewers of fences and prisers 

of damage. 

At the same time a vote was passed by a majority that no fence be 
left more than five inches between the rail to the fifth rail. 

If At a meeting held on the third day of April, 1791, at the house of 
John Green, a subscription was signed for wolf scalps and the money to 
be paid to Nathaniel Pettitt to pay out for scalps. 

Entered at the request of Benjamin Wilcox and David Palmer, town 
wardens, a settlement they had the 3oth day of July, 1796, with John 
Moore and Jacob Glover concerning two hogs sold in 1795. 

one hog sold for 1-16-0. 

one hog sold for 0-18-0. 


A meeting held the fifth day of March, 1798. A vote was passed 
that every inhabitant shall pay one shilling for every wolf taken and 
killed in this town, the one shilling to be collected by the collector and 
paid to the town wardens, they to pay the same to persons who kill the 
wolf in town. 

At a meeting of the inhabitants of the Township of Grimsby, held 
the first day of March, 1801, the following persons were elected: 

Andrew Pettitt Clark. 

Edward Griffin, Benjamin Bell Assessors. 

Smith Griffin Collector. 

John Pettitt, Robert Nelles, Sqrs. Town Wardens. 
Hogs were to run at large. 

NOTE (It will be noted from the above record that District No. 6 
has ceased to be known as such and that a Township has been formed, 
namely, the Township of Grimsby). 

In 1807 horses were not to run at large. 

Posted at the request of William Lawrence, this third day of De 
cember, 1 8 10, two brindle cows, both white faces, one marked with a 
crop off both ears, likewise two spring calves with them. 


Posted at the request of J. Pettitt, this fifteenth day of January, 
1814, a strayed hog marked with a crop off the right ear, which came 
to his place about the middle of December last. 

Meeting in the interests of the Township of Grimsby, the fourth 
day of January, 1830, the following were elected: 
Daniel Palmer Town Clark. 
Lewis Whitney, John Camp Assessors. 
Ralph Walker, Ezekiah Smith, William Fisher, Dave Free- 
land, Abram Meridith, Henry Nixon, John Cline, 
Henry Smith, Nathaniel Griffin, Eli White, John Beem, 
Peter Buckbee Overseers of Roads. 

Posted at the request of William Nelles, stray steer, came to him 
about last September, 1833, two years old, crop off left ear, and half 
penny under the right, natural color red. 

The above steer was returned to the owner. 

1833 Cattle and strays as before, horses not to run at large. Pigs 
not to run at large until four months old, provided they do their neigh 
bors any injury. 



Andrew Hunter s mark is the form of a Poplar leaf on both ears. 

William Moor s mark is a square notch on the right ear. 

William Canada s mark is a half crop on the upper side of the left 

From these brief records we learn of the things which concerned 
the people of these early times, how simple their needs were and how 
few the activities of the municipalities. 



In 1788, Lord Dorchester, Governor-General of Canada, whose 
headquarters were at Montreal, issued a proclamation by which he gave 
notice of forming new districts. Western Canada was at that time 
formed into four districts. The name of Nassau was given to the dis 
trict between the River Trent on the east and to a line extending from 
Long Point north, for the western boundary, which included the Niagara 
Peninsula. To the District of Nassau was appointed a Judge, Sheriff 
and other officers, and at once the new settlers emerged from a marshall- 
like law, which they had never liked, to all the rights of Civil law, as 
administered in a Court of Common Pleas. Honorable Robert Hamilton 
of Queenston was first Judge of the District of Nassau, and was looked 
upon by the pioneers with great respect, for the many good qualities 
which he possessed. The punishments for committing crime were vari 
ous. Hanging was the penalty for certain crimes, including felony; 
but by far the most common punishment was banishment to the United 
States, which was much dreaded. Whipping on the bare back and im 
prisonment were meted out to criminals, but the new settlers were, with 
few exceptions, a law-abiding people. On July 8th, IJQX, Colonel John 
Graves Simcoe was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada. 
In 1795 Governor Simcoe named the Captial of Upper Canada, Newark 
(now Niagara Village), after Newark, New Jersey, with which he had 
been acquainted during the Revolutionary War. Let us review briefly 
the history of this little Capital. Up to this time (1795) the place had 
been variously called Lennox, Nassau, Buttersburg, and West Niagara. 
The name Niagara being generally used of the Fort across the River. 
During the American Revolution, Fort Niagara on the American side 
of the Niagara River was held by the English troops, and the sight of 
the Village of Niagara served as a general camping place for troops, who 
under various leaders, made excursions into the settlements of the Ameri 
cans. Colonel John Butler, with his Rangers, Captain Joseph Brant, 
(Thayendanegea), the chosen leader of the Six Nation Indians, with Sir 
John Johnson, and other prominent persons, made Niagara their head 
quarters for a long time during the days of the Revolution. During this 
time only a few log houses were built where Niagara now stands. The 
Officers quarters and buildings for other purposes being within the Fort 
on the opposite side of the River. For those who visit this historic spot 
from time to time, it is well to remember that Fort Niagara is now situat 
ed on American soil, near the River and can be plainly seen from the 
Canadian side.; while Fort Missassaga and Fort George arc on the Cana 
dian side. At the close of the Revolution in 1784, Butlers Rangers, 444 
in number, were disbanded here and many of the erected houses given 
them. When Governor Simcoe in 1791 made Newark the Captial of 
Upper Canada the little Village promised to be one of the future large 
cities of Upper Canada. Vessels from Lower Canada brought their 


cargoes here, which served as the general depot for the goods which were 
carried from this point and Queenston around the Niagara Falls to Lake 
Erie. Business was brisk and settlers from forty and fifty miles inland 
made it their headquarters for procuring their supplies. The first par 
liament of Upper Canada was called on the i8th of September, 1791, by 
Governor Simcoe at Newark, and continued in session until October 
1 5th of the same year. Grimsby Village has the honor of sending a 
member, Mr. Pettitt, to the first Parliament of Upper Canada. His 
Excellency, Governor Simcoe, predicted that the Village of Grimsby 
would, in a few years, become a county town, as it had many natural 
advantages. This place, unfortunately, like Newark, was not destined 
to become a large town or city. There is a great deal of controversy as 
to where the first Parliament of Upper Canada was held. Navy Hall, 
the residence of Governor Simcoe, is considered the most likely place. 
There is but one of the buildings which comprised Navy Hall still stand 
ing, and this sadly neglected. Goldwin Smith said that it deserved to 
be venerated by Ontario as much as Rome venerated the hut of Romulus. 
Chief Justice Powell says that this first session of Parliament met in a 
canvass house. While it is true that Governor Simcoe purchased the 
canvass houses used by Banks and Solander in Captain Cook s voyage, 
1768-1771, and that these were set up in Newark, it is very unlikely that 
they were used by Parliament when Navy Hall was available and much 
more suitable. These canvass houses were set up at York, now Toronto, 
in 1796, and were used there for a time as the home for Parliament, until 
a building could be secured, as the removal to York was hurriedly made. 
Dr. Duncan Campbell Scott claims that the first Parliament was held in 
Free Masons Hall, while the Canadian Law Times for 1913 states that the 
later sessions of this Parliament, 1793-1796, were held in additions to 
the barracks of Butlers Rangers. The form of government for the Pro 
vinces was moulded on that of Britain: A Governor-General and fbr 
each Province, a Lieutenant-Go vernor; and Executive Council; a Legis 
lative Council and a Legislative Assembly corresponding generally to the 
Crown; the Cabinet of Ministers; the House of Lords, and the House of 
Commons. The Province was divided into nineteen Counties, from 
which sixteen members of the Legislative Assembly were to be elected 
by the people. The Legislative Council consisted of not fewer than 
seven members who, as well as the members of the Executive Council, 
were appointed by the Crown. The general election for the first Legis 
lative Assembly took place in August, 1792., and Parliament met on the 
iyth of September. The constituencies had then a population which has 
been placed at about 15,000. The member of First Durham, York and 
First Lincoln, 1791-1796, was Nathaniel Pettitt of Grimsby. The first 
Ontario Parliament held five sessions within the four years of its full 
term at Newark. Copies of these early sessions of the Legislature were 
ordered to be printed. These disappeared at an early date, as is evident 
from the fact that no copies were known to be in existence in 1855, 
when the manuscript copies in London, England, were copied by Mr. 
Mayer for the Canadian Government. But there is a break in London, 


the journals of the Legislative Assembly for the years 1794, 1795, J 796, 
1797, 1809, 1813 and 1815 being missing. In explanation, it is suggested 
that if copies were sent from Canada to London in the usual course for 
these years that the vessels carrying them may have been captured by 
French men-of-war. It is also suggested that these copies may have 
reached London and have been lost by the authorites there. For this 
reason the copies which we have, should be the more highly treasured 
by Canadians and more especially by those of Ontario. All references 
made in this chapter to these early sessions are taken from copies of the 
records in London, England, and may be considered reliable. The first 
Parliament being in session on the seventeenth of September, 1791, his 
Excellency made the following speech to the Legislative Council and 
House of Assembly: "I have summoned you together under the authority 
of an Act of Parliament of Great Britain passed in the last year, which 
has established the British Constitution and all the fbrms which secure 
and maintain it in this distant country. The wisdom and beneficience 
of our Most Gracious Sovereign and the British Parliament have been 
eminently proved, not only in imparting to us the same form of govern 
ment, but in securing the benefit of the provisions which guard this 
memorable Act so that the blessings of our invaluable constitution thus 
protected and amplified, we hope will be extended to the remotest pos 
terity. The great and momentous trusts and duties, which have been 
committed to the representatives of this Province in a degree infinitely 
beyond whatever, till this period have distinquished in any other Colony 
have originated from the British nation upon a just consideration of the 
energy and hazzard with which the inhabitants have so conspicuously 
supported and defended the British Constitution. The natural advant 
ages of the Province of Upper Canada are inferior to none on this side of 
the Atlantic; there can be no separate interest throughout its whole ex 
tent. The British form of Government has prepared the way for its 
speedy colonization and I trust that your fostering care will improve the 
favorable situation, and that a numerous and agricultural people will 
speedily take possession of a soil and climate which, under the British 
laws and munificence with which His Majesty has granted the lands of 
the Crown, offer such manifest and peculiar encouragements." The 
House adjourned till ten o clock tomorrow morning. 

For the district of Prince Edward and Adolphustown, one Philip 
Dorland was elected to this Parliament. He was a Quaker and dis 
covered after being elected that it would be necessary for him to take 
the oath, before he could vote in Parliament. From religious scruples 
he asked Parliament to be relieved from taking the oath by affirming in 
place of the oath. It was ordered that the Speaker direct a new writ 
to be issued for the said county and district, and a new election was held 
and Philip Dorland was not allowed to sit in Parliament. Friday, the 
list September, 1791, prayers by the Rev. Addison, appointed chaplain. 
Mr. Jones moved for leave to bring in a Bill to establish trials by jury. 
Leave was given. The committee appointed to regulate and assess the 
urns to be paid as salaries to the several officers employed by the House 


reported that they had gone into the consideration of the sums to be paid 
to the said officer as salaries, and allowed: To the Clerk of the House 
ninety-one pounds five shillings, Quebec currency, per annum. To the 
Sergeant-at Arms of the House forty-five pounds twelve shillings and 
six pence, Quebec currency, per annum. To the Door-keeper of the 
House ten pounds, Quebec currency, per annum. September the ^th, 
1791, a Bill to encourage the destroying of wolves was read the first 
time. Thursday, the i3rd of September, a Bill to authorize town meet 
ings was read the second time. Read the third time a Bill to establish 
trials by jury in the Province of Upper Canada. A bill to regulate the 
toll to be taken in mills was read the first time. Tuesday, the Z5th June, 
the House in committee, Mr. Spencer in the chair went into the con 
sideration of the Bill to prevent the further introduction of Slaves and 
to limit the term of contract for servitude within this Province. It 
may not be generally known to the people of the County of Lincoln that 
slavery to a certain extent existed here, but such is the case. When 
Great Britain took Canada from the French they found slavery existing 
which had been introduced about the beginning of the eighteenth cen 
tury. About the year 1784 a census of the slaves was taken in Lower 
Canada, and the number at that time was found to be 304. Some of the 
U.E. Loyalists who came to Canada after the Revolution owned slaves 
and brought them with them, and it was looked upon as legal to hold 
them. Slavery was abolished by an Act of Parliament July the ninth, 
1793. The following is a copy from the Gazette of Newark: "For sale 
a Negro slave, eighteen years of age, stout and healthy, has had the 
smallpox, and is capable of service either in house or out doors. The 
terms will be made easy for the purchaser and cash received in payment. 
Inquire of the printer." 

"Indian Slave." All persons are forbidden harboring, employing 
or concealing my Indian slave called, Sal, as I am determined to prosecute 
any offender to the utmost extent of the law, and persons who may suffer 
her to remain on their premises for the space of half an hour without my 
consent will be taken as offending and dealt with according to law." 
Signed Charles Fields. The last session of the first Parliament of Upper 
Canada was held at Newark in 1796. This was the last Parliament held 
at this historic point. Events were transpiring which made the re 
moval of the Capital necessary. At this time Fort Niagara on the east 
side of the river, which, until this time had been held by the English, 
was given up to the Americans. Governor Simcoe considered that the 
Capital was too near an American fort and moved it to a temporary one 
at Little York, known as Muddy York, now Toronto, receiving its name 
York in honor of Frederick, Duke of York. After many years when 
it had grown to be a city, it resumed its old Indian name, Toronto. 
During the second session of the second Parliament in 1798, Upper Can 
ada was again divided, this time into eight districts of twenty-three 
Counties and 158 Townships. From the division which was made at 
this time the Townships of Clinton, Grimsby, Saltfleet, Barton, Ancaster, 
Glanford, Binbrook, Gainsboro, and Caistor, formed the first riding of 


the County of Lincoln The Townships of Niagara, Grantham and 
Loath formed the second Riding. The Townships of Stamford, Thorold 
and Pelham formed the third Riding, and the fourth Riding was made 
up of the Townships of Bertie, Willoughby, Crowland, Humberstone, 
and Wamfleet. Various changes have since been made by joining some 
of the Townships to other Counties. About this time the Governor- 
General, Lord Dorchster, who was the King s chief representative in 
Canada, instructed Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe to take up his residence 
in York, while Simcoe favored the forks of the Thames, now London, 
as the Captial. In a letter to the Colonial Secretary he suggested that 
the temporary Government buildings at York be sold and the Capital 
removed to London, which he claimed was its proper place. It is said 
that Lord Dorchester favored Kingston, and Simcoe favored London, 
and that they compromised by agreeing on Toronto. There is not much 
honor for Toronto if this claim is correct, but the events which followed 
would lead us to believe that such is not the case. Dorchester gave 
Simcoe his instructions which were opposed by the Lieutenant-Governor, 
who was conscientious in his belief that London was the proper place 
for the capital. It is also supposed that some jealousy existed between 
these two representatives of the King in Canada. Dorchester had his 
way, however, and York, the temporary Capital, became the permanent 
one and we believe rightly so. However, as a result, no doubt, of this 
friction, Canada lost two splendid Administrators, as both Dorchester 
and Simcoe were recalled by the Home Government, in the same year, 
Lord Dorchester having served for two terms from 1776 to 1796. 

The fourth Parliament of Upper Canada held at York in 1805 is tne 
one in which Smithville has a special interest as one of its early inhabi 
tants, Solomon Hill, grandfather of John W. and of Alvin Hill of Smith 
ville, was elected to this Parliament in a campaign in which he was 
opposed by seven other candidates. He was a son-in-law of Richard 
Griffin, Smithville s first citizen. Colonel Robert Nelles of Grimsby 
was also a successful candidate in this election. We shall consider 
briefly the election of these men and the available history of Colonel 
Nelles at this time. A complete record of the life of his Colleague, 
Solomon Hill, is contained in another chapter. 

It was the days of open voting, the ballot being introduced in On 
tario in 1874. Colonel Charles Clark in Sixty Years of Upper Canada* 
writes regarding open voting. At a Polling booth I had seen men driven 
from the building with broken heads and bruised bodies, because it was 
known that their votes if recorded would be contrary to the local ma 
jority. I have known men sworn as special constables using their au 
thority to force back again and again from the poles, voters of an opposite 
party, and I had heard some twenty men who, while taking the oath as 
special constables, and saying that they would keep the peace toward 
all Her Majesty s Subjects, interpolate the words, Except the d d 

These conditions may not have existed in the time of Mr. Hill and 
Colonel Nelles. One thing is certain, and that is that these early elec- 


tions were exciting times compared with those of our own day. Feel 
ings ran high and whiskey ran freely, fights were frequent and a few 
were fatal. Election in 1804 was held four days and each candidate was 
required to pay a Guinea each morning at the opening of the polls. As 
Mr. Hill was successful in this election in 1804, Smith ville has the honor 
of sending a member to the fourth Parliament of Upper Canada at Little 
York, now Toronto. 

In 1780 Henry Nelles and two of his sons from Palestine on the 
Mohawk River, N.Y., journeyed from Fort Niagara (then Newark) 
westward along the lake beach in search of a place for a home, stopping 
over night at the mouth of the Forty Mile Creek, and he said to his sons : 
"This land is good, and this is far enough west; nobody will settle be 
yond this in our day." He, however, subsequently settled on the Grand 
River where the village of York now stands. Captain Robert Nelles, 
son of Henry Nelles, settled on Lot Number Eleven, Concession i, in 
1783; his brother Abraham (afterwards Legislative Councillor) in 1784, 
and William Nelles in 1787. Robert Nelles was a person of strong will, 
great endurance, was a valiant warrior and was often employed in carry 
ing despatches of a confidential character and under difficult circumstances 
during the American Revolution. On one occasion the i4th of February, 
1780, he and four Indians were so driven and surrounded by a superior 
force of Continentals that they could only escape by swimming the Os- 
wego River near its mouth. Nelles and one Indian only made good the 
opposite shore and escaped, though the bullets whizzed about their heads. 
Their clothes were in a few minutes frozen on them and no means of dry 
ing them except the heat of their bodies, until they got to Fort Niagara. 
Nelles lived at Grimsby, to a good old age, having filled several places 
of position and trust. Such were the men that Smithville and Grimsby 
sent to the fourth Parliament on the first day of February, in the year 
1805 to represent the constituences of West York, First Lincoln and Hal- 
dimand. Abraham Nelles, Esq., was the Returning Officer. There 
were nineteen members elected to this Parliament. In reading the pro 
ceedings of this Parliament, we note the broader outlook and larger ac 
tivities of the Province, schools, roads, jails, revenues, etc., were prob 
lems which were confronting the young Province. We find Mr. Nelles 
and Mr. Hill very frequently voting on the same side, for or against the 
Bills proposed. We find a delegation with some sixty one signers asking 
that the minmum amount of liquor which the Distillers could sell be 
reduced from three gallons to one. This petition was signed by two inn 
keepers and three others. Some of the names appear to be familiar ones. 

Another petition regarding Provincial Highways was signed by 
John Pettitt, Levi Lewis, Richard Griffin, Wm. Kennedy, and fifteen 
others. Familiar names in Smithville and Grimsby in those days. It 
would appear that the Hon. Mr. Biggs is not the first man to confront 
the problem of Provincial Highways. 


"SMITHVILLE IN 1922 Griffin Street South 


We find that at the opening of the fourth session of this fourth Par 
liament on Tuesday, January x6th, 1808, Joseph Willcocks, Esquire, was 
sworn as the new member for York, First Lincoln and Haldimand, in 
the seat of Solomon Hill, who had passed over into the Great Beyond 
where the Great Law-Giver rules and reigns. 



For some years after the conquest of New France the Roman Catholic 
Church continued to minister to the Colonists almost without a rival 
After a time, however, we find ministers of other Churches entering the 
Provinces, and beginning that humble work from which sprang several 
strong denominations. Within five years of the fall of Montreal, we 
hear of a Presbyterian Minister conducting services in the Jesuite College 
Quebec. In i78z the first sermon by a Methodist Minister was preached 
in Halifax. Two years later the Rev. John Stuart, the father of the 
Upper Canada Church (Anglican), began his work. The year 1786 
saw the erection of the first Protestant Church in Upper Canada, built by 
George III. along the Grand River, near where the City of Brantford is 
now located. This church was built for the loyal Mohawk Indians. 
It is still standing and is a precious historic landmark of the Mohawks 
of our own time. By the close of the century, three churches, the An 
glican, the Presbyterian, and the Methodist, had gained a foothold in 
all the Provinces. Let us see what progress the church had made in our 
own county. The first regular religious service in the Township of 
Grimsby was the Church of England, performed by Judge Pettitt in 1787, 
in his own, and occasionally in his neighbor s houses, until the building 
of the log church where the stone church was built in 1812.. The second 
church (Methodist) was built in 1801 on the mountain near Thirty Mile 
Creek. The first resident Methodist minister was Rev. Elijah Warren 
of Smith ville, in 1818. The Weslyn Methodists at this time held their 
services in the old Court House at Smith ville. In 182.1 they built a small 
frame church on the sight of the present Methodist Church. Smith 
Griffin preached in those early days and the settlers came to worship 
dressed in top boots and homespun clothing. Several descendants of 
the Griffin s became ministers of the Gospel. Most of the settlers at 
this time were either Methodists or Tunkers. Ned Griffin was buried 
in this Methodist cemetery. In the year 1881 this old frame church was 
replaced by the beautiful brick church which the village has today. 
The following is an extract of a letter dated Smithville, August i6th, 
i88z, written by Mr. Hugh Bridgman, a clever local preacher of this 
church, to the Rev. J. M. Van Every, an ordained minister of the 
Methodist Church, and a former resident member of this old Smith 
ville church. It reads: "We are engaged in building a new and 
beautiful commodious church in old Smithville, in place of the 
old delapidated one in which we used to worship, and where 
we had good times, and souls were converted and now are bright and 
shining stars doing good in the world. Go on, Brother for you are 
one of that number." 

As a small lad I attended Sabbath School in this Church with Mrs. 
Hugh Bridgman (Ann Field) as teacher. Mr. and Mrs. Bridgman were 
life workers there, faithful to the end and have both gone to their re- 


ward. In the year i86x the Universalist Church was built. It was 
located two Lots beyond the residence of Mr. Frank Hays. The first 
minister of this church WES the Rev. Mr. Lavelle. A large congregation 
worshipped here for many years. Death and removals brought the mem 
bership down to a few families and some few years ago the property was 
sold and the old church which had been a religious landmark for many 
years was torn down. The Episcopal Methodist Church was located 
on the present sight of the Presbyterian Church. It is spoken of as 
The Old White Church, a frame building, plain and simple in its struc 
ture. It contained but one centre aisle with wooden benches on either 
side, and had no organ. In. 1886 this church was sold to the Presby 
terians who built the present brick church. The Episcopal Methodists 
united at this time with the Weslyans. About 1816 the Rev. D. W. 
Eastman, the Pioneer Missionary, became a resident minister in the 
Township. Mr. Eastman s work in Presbyterianism in early days is 
recorded in another chapter. Some time previous to the year 1876 the 
sight for the present Catholic Church was donated by Mr. Martin Lally. 
Here a neat little church and comfortable Priest s home were built. 

Services are still held there. The disciple Church was standing in 
1876. While we believe that the Anglican was built at a later date. 
Both of these churches still have regular services within their sacred 
walls. Smith ville has, generally speaking, a church-going population, 
and her members take pride in keeping their houses of worship simple, 
yet suitable for the purpose for which they were dedicated. 

These various churches, by the Grace of God, as instruments in His 
Hands, have sent forth Missionaries, Ministers and Christian workers by 
the hundreds, who have sown the seed during many years and we feel 
sure that many Golden Harvests have been garnered in, as the result of 
their zeal and faithfulness. 



Next to the Christian Church the Educational Institutions are the 
most important in a community. For 1x7 years Smithville has been 
steadily advancing towards higher and better standards of education. 
There is room for doubting the wisdom of introducing some subjects and 
certain text books required by the Educational Department, yet, on the 
whole, the progress of education has during the last century been in the 
right direction. 

The first school house in the County was built of logs and was situat 
ed a little east of the Village of Grimsby in 1794. The same year another 
was built at the Thirty Mile Creek, in which taught John French. The 
third school was built at Smithville in 1795 and in 1818 one was built in 
the Merritt Settlement, and about 1830 the log school at Middleport was 
built. Peter Pitcher was the first school teacher in Smithville. The 
first school house built in Smithville in 1795, we presume, is the old log 
school house which was situated where the residence of Mr. John Deans 
is located. This school was attended by Robert Murgatroyd and Jerry 
Collins. At a later date Doctor Gilbert Field, father of Mrs. Frank 
Hays of Smithville, taught school here. This school was also taught by 
the Rev. Mr. Bartram, who also preached in the old Episcopal Methodist 
Church. The next pioneer school was the one built atout 1830, between 
Smithville and Miadleport, a small hamlet of a few houses, near the 
Jerry Taylor property on the St. Anns road. Mr. D. W. Eastman, who 
attended school there speaks of Deacon Page s active interest in the con 
struction and progress of this school. One of the school buildings, con 
structed on this sight is the house recently occupied by Mr. Nelson Ness, 
opposite the Cartright property. This may not be the original school 
building, as it is remembered as a red building. Sarah Burkholder was 
the first teacher of this school where the three Rs, Reading, Riting and 
Rithmetic were well grounded. The following were scholars at this old 
school: Mike Dalton, Mary Sammons, Ward Eastman, Alfred Page, Joe 
Kennedy, John Kennedy, Nancy Page, Mary Page, Alvin Hill, Fred Easf- 
man, Ed. Sammons, Hester Sammons, George Oill, Joe Oill, Charlotte 
Oill, Eliz. Oill, Anna Kelly. 

Other teachers in this school were Ann Field (Mrs. Hugh Bridgman), 
Eliza Dalton and Florella Morse, daughter of Abishai Morse. 

In these early days many private schools were conducted in various 
homes where the children were sent and a fee paid by the parents, to the 
teacher for the tuition. There was also held select schools where parents 
who had the means sent their children, and paid the tuition fee for the 
teacher s services. Such a school was held in the old Court House in 

The next progressive movement along educational lines in the vil 
lage was the construction of the present public school building, of frame 
structure, and consisting of three rooms. The public school was held in 


the two lower rooms, Fred Eastman being the first Principal. In the 
upper room, which is now the senior public school room, was held Smith- 
ville s first High School or Grammar School, as it was then called. This 
school was taught by Wm. Cruickshank, a man of considerable ability. 
Here the High School was held until the present High School building 
was built. Some of the teachers of the public school in days past were 
Junior Room Miss Grace McGregor, Miss Laura Merritt (Mrs. James 
Glover), Miss B. Gove, Miss Louise Teeter (Mrs. Bell), Miss Myrtle 
Woodlan (Mrs. L. Killins), Miss Smith (Mrs. Willis Lymburner), and 
Miss Flossie Gove. In the Senior Room were John Anderson, with his 
famous cat-o-nine-tails. I can feel them yet. Robert Wade, John 
Nichol, now Rev. Dr. Nichol, Mr. McKinnon, G. White and Miss Com 

The most outstanding figure in the history of the High School is 
Mr. James Tremeer, who now lives at Medicine Hat, Alberta. Mr. 
Trcmeer began his work in Smith ville in February, 1890, and remained 
until the summer of 1895 u P on an invitation of the High School Board 
he returned in the summer of 1899, remaining until 1906. It was during 
this period that the writer came under the influence of Mr. Tremeer s 
personality, and instruction. I shall here recall a few scenes of those 
happy days. Looking back over school days there are certain events 
that seem stamped upon our memories, while others are but a misty 
shade of memory. I first began to feel an interest in Mr. Tremeer when 
I received a postcard through the mail, referring to the H. S. Entrance 
examinations on which I read with trembling hand and a thumping heart 
the word Passed. This card was signed by Mr. Tremeer. The next 
recollection I have of him was his kind, encouraging smile when I met 
him on the street and he said that he was pleased at my success. His 
kind wife was as pleased as he and said so. I wonder if we realize how 
much we help and encourage the youth in our midst by saying something 
encouraging. After entering Mr. Tremeer s school I was to learn some 
thing more of his smile, which, though frequent, was hidden behind two 
fingers, lest the students might think that he was given to levity within 
the halls of learning. Mr. Tremeer was an excellent teacher, conscienti 
ous, untiring, faithful, and was loved by the students whose welfare he 
had so much at heart. 

In 1906 he moved to Leamington, and in 1908 again upon invitation 
he returned to the Smithville school, retiring from the profession in 1913. 
In the classes sent up by Mr. Tremeer for Departmental examinations 
the great majority passed, often whole classes, with but single exceptions, 
were successful. Many of these graduates are now occupying prominent 
positions, some Professors in Toronto University, Principals of High 
Schools and Collegiate Institutes, others as noted physicians, and many 
others are bringing honor to their Alma Mater, Smithville High School. 

Some of the assistant teachers during Mr. Tremeer s Principalship 
were Miss Alice Maude Wicket (Mrs. Ellis Murgatroyd), Misses Nelson, 
White, McArthur, Lick, Bridgman, Hill, Lindsay, McKay, Teeter (Mrs. 
L. Bell) and Mr. Fathener, Mr. Roper and Mr. Williams. 



Mr. Tom Elliott was for a number of years a successful Principal of 
the school. As he is a native of Smith ville, and educated at the Smith- 
ville schools, we are proud of his marked success as a Principal. 

The grounds of the school were greatly improved and beautified by 
the individual efforts of Mr. Charles Fritshaw, a former Trustee, whose 
heart was in the school and his interest in its achievements. Mr. D. W. 
Eastman, now of Barrie, was for many years a Trustee of the school and 
many other public-spirited men have occupied positions on its Board, 
who have had" the welfare of the institution and the youth of the com 
munity at heart. Smithville may be proud of her history along educa 
tional lines and it is hoped that she may send forth in the next century 
as many clever and capable men and women, as she has in the past. 



The Press of a district constitutes one of the most important features 
of its society. Journalism wields a mighty influence socially, morally, 
and politically, forming and controlling in a large measure the thought 
of the people. It is the channel of information for the masses. It is a 
power in the land and generally speaking, it is a power for good, keep 
ing the people posted on current events, stimulating a national and pa 
triotic unity or thought and ideals. It is the enemy of the drone and 
the object of fear in the heart of the evil-doer. We take pleasure in 
alloting the space of this chapter to The Press of the past and present. 
We present the historic records of its growth and development with a 
feeling of gratiude that this great source of education and advancement 
had its birth in Upper Canada in our own County of Lincoln. It is a 
generally acknowledged fact that the oldest paper founded in Canada 
was the Halifax Gazette, in 1752.. It is also generally acceded that the 
first newspaper founded in Upper Canada was the Upper Canada Gazette, 
which was first published at Newark, on the i8th day of April, 1793. 
It was the Government paper of the time, and was the means by which 
Governor Simcoe gave official notices to the people. The annual sub 
scription to this first newspaper was three dollars. It has been stated 
that the Gazette removed to York in 1794, but we believe that such was 
not the case. During the third session of the first Parliament held at 
Newark, 1794, we find in the official records of such sessions, reference to 
the Lieutenant-Governor s speeches which are not recorded but referred 
to as in the Gazette. 

As the Gazette was a Government organ it is very probable that it 
continued to be printed in Newark until the seat of Government was 
moved to York in 1797. Another writer states that it was moved to 
York in 1799, while an historian of the County of Lincoln copies an 
extract from the Gazette of Newark under the date of November z8th, 
1802.. The reference is an advertisement for the return of a lost slave, 
while as a matter of fact slavery was abolished in Upper Canada by the 
first Parliament, 1791-1796. The article may have appeared under the 
date of 1791 instead of i8oz as recorded. It is our opinion that the 
Gazette was printed at Newark until after Parliament was called in ses 
sion at York in 1797 and the statement that it was moved to York in 
1799 * s probably correct. 

At any rate it was the first newspaper published in Toronto. When 
published at Newark the Gazette had about 150 subscribers and Gideon 
Tiffany was the publisher. It was followed at Niagara by The Spectator 
and later on by The Niagara Gleaner, published for many years by Andrew 
Heron. The Gazette became the organ of officialism and William Lyon 
Mackenzie was so wrathy that during the troubles of 1837 he caused 
the house of the publisher, Dr. Home, on Yonge Street, to be burned. 


In 182.4 Wm. Lyon Mackenzie commenced the Colonial Advocate, 
for three months printed by Oliver Grace in Lewiston, and dated at 
Queenston. Mackenzie then induced Hiram Leavenworth to move his 
printing establishment from Rochester to Queenston, where he settled 
in August, 1814. It is the purpose of the Men s Club of Queenston to 
preserve this historic printing office of Mackenzie from ruin and decay. 
The Advocate was then moved to York, where Mr. Leavenworth continued 
printing it, by contract for about five months. On February ist, 182.6, 
Leavenworth published in St. Catharines The Farmer s Journal, and the 
Welland Canal Intelligencer, at $4 per year. On January ist, 182.7, he took 
a census of St. Catharines and at that time the population numbered 
384 people. 

In 1844 George Brown founded The Banner, an organ of Scottish 
Presbyterianism, and from it emerged The Globe, still a champion of clean 
living, and Scottish adherence to the Kirk and its teaching. 

The Welland Telegraph was started in 1863 an ^ was f r a time the 
leading journal of the County. 

The Welland Tribune was started and fostered, first in the Village of 
Fonthill in 1854, the enterprise being prompted at the time to meet the 
requirements of the Reform Party in a general election. A few years 
ago The Telegraph and Tribune of Welland amalgamated and are now known 
as The Tribune and Telegraph. Some time previous to 1886, Mr. Constable 
started the Smithville Independent at Smithville. His printing office was 
in the old Checkered Store where the McMurchie property is now situ 
ated. This store was burned in the big fire of 1886. 

A small news sheet was printed in the Maclean Block, recently known 
as the Shrum Feed Store, about the year 1897. 

On June i5th, 1916, Mr. A. T. Michell commenced the publication of 
the Smithville Review, a weekly paper which now has a circulation of 1,050 
copies. Mr. Michell has installed in the Shepard Block up-to-date type 
setting machines and presses, and turns out a paper of which Smithville 
is justly proud. The Review has striven since its first publication for local 
progress and development and has furnished the incentive for many 
local improvements, and for much village pride and progress. 



Until the year 1896 Smith ville had been without any railway accom 
modation, nor had the people up to this time the use of the automobile 
for travel. A short journey had to be taken by horse and carriage, and 
a long one, by railway after a ride of eight miles on the old stage coach 
to Grimsby. At last the air became charged with news of the coming 
of a railway. Would it touch our village? How soon would it come? 
Perhaps it was just rumor like lots of other things which had been prom 
ised to put life into the sleeping old village. Some said: Would it not 
kill the town? Some said it would cut up the farms and kill the cattle. 
Others said it would never be built. There were those who believed that 
a railway would be detrimental to Smithville, and some actually can 
vassed voters against the project. It was the old story of the chronic 
kickers who oppose every progressive movement. Robert Murgatroyd, 
Sr., fought strenuously for this transportation facility so much needed by 
the district. He journeyed several times to Ottawa on delegations rela 
tive to its consumation. The route contemplated was to run a mile or 
more north of Smithville, which was strongly opposed by Mr. Murga 
troyd. A bonus by-law of $5,000 was passed by the Township. It has 
been stated to have carried by the small majority of 9 votes. In advanc 
ing this bonus certain concessions were obtained from the Railway Com 
pany, guaranteeing a specified number of trains daily each way to stop at 
Smithville, which was, as was learned later, a wise precaution on the 
part of the Township. Mr. Murgatroyd was one of the Provisional 
Directors of the new Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway. And so 
the work on the cuts and grades began. There were wheel scrapers, 
slushers or hand scrapers, and plows at work everywhere along the pro 
posed route. There were bridge gangs and workmen of various trades, 
and skilled and unskilled laborers. A few farmers undertook to stop the 
construction of a railway on their farms by the use of pitch forks, axes, 
etc., but in spite of this formidable opposition, the grades began to fill 
and the cuts to open up a clear view of roadbed ready for ties and rails. 
Soon the track-laying began; work trains loaded with rails, spikes and 
ties appeared. The rails were lifted by many strong Italian arms and 
placed into position, followed by the spike drivers, after which the 
locomotive moved forward foot by foot. 

I was not addicted to the habit of playing hookey from school in 
my youth, but at this time I somehow acquired it, and it seemed to be 
contagious, as other boys were seen more often at the railway tracks than 
at school. After all it was an education for us and we no doubt learned 
more practical knowledge during those days than if we had been at 

At this time Smithville had an Italian population of over one hun 
dred. The old Lovejoy was packed with Italian laborers and their 
families. Two Italian children, Pete and Ikey, sons of one of these 


families attended public school, and sat opposite me in the class room. 
They were well-behaved youngsters and spent a good deal of their time 
showing their white teeth in a broad grin of good nature. In order to 
tease me at home I was called Pete or Ikey. The title of Pete did not 
rile me very much, but Ikey was too much. At this I openly rebelled. 
Ikcy; Ikey just try to imagine yourself called Ikey. 

One day fifty of the Italian workmen decided that they had a griev 
ance against the Railway Company. Working with them were about 
twenty white men, most of them our own villagers. The Italians de 
clared a strike, hoisted a red flag on a pole, rounded up the Smithville 
workmen and took them along to the office where a general row took 
place. This was no doubt Smithville s first strike. 

At last the great day came, when the first train was to pass over the 
new road, and was the occasion of another morning of hookey, in order 
to ride a few feet on the big engine that was to pull the first coaches over 
the new road. 

In 1914 a branch line of railway, the Erie and Ontario, forming a 
part of the T.H. & B. system, was built from Smithville to Port Mait- 
land, touching the town of Dunnville, an important outlet for Smith 
ville to the south. The first T.H. Si B. Depot at Smithville was burned 
by lightning, and the Railway Company has since provided a comfort 
able depot for the accommodation of the patrons of the road. 

Instead of killing Smithville its railway is the big factor which is 
going to play its part in making our native village into a good-sized, 
prosperous town. 



The development of railways in Canada and the growth of financial 
facilities, through the improvement of currency, and the expansion of 
Banks, made possible and inevitable, the breakdown of the isolation of 
pioneer days, and the growth of nation-wide and eventually world-wide 
trade and connections. Farming ceased to be carried on wholly for use 
and became specialized. In manufacturing and trade, we note the gradual 
concentration in large towns and cities, taking the production of the 
country s needs out of the hands of the primitive Village Manufacturer, 
shifting from the self-contained life of the back woods clearing to pro 
duction for nation-wide exchange, the linking up of the country by rail 
ways and Banks into a single market, and the specialization of all in 

The evolution of Canadian Banking began before Confederation. 
The first half century of Canadian Banking might be called the period 
of Provincial Banking, as the only Legislative authority exercised over 
Banking was that of the Legislatures of the individual Provinces. The 
only unifying institution was the British Government. 

From 1841 to 1867 in Upper and Lower Canada there was legislative 
unity and as a result, unification of Banking Legislation was accom 
plished, during that period. The federation of the scattered Provinces 
in 1867 resulted in a series of general Banking Acts and the unification 
of Banking regulations throughout the Dominion. 

Owing to the nature of the Physical and Georgraphical conditions 
of the settlements in Upper Canada, the means of communication being 
very imperfect, they had little or no choice as to the places in which 
they might purchase supplies or dispose of their products. Even though 
there had been an abundance of circulating mtaium, their trade would 
still have been essentially one of barter; an exchange of their surplus 
products with the nearest merchant, for a limited range of goods. Many 
functions were united in one person in those days; all kinds of goods were 
supplied by one merchant and all kinds of surplus products were pur 
chased and exported by the same merchant. Where mills were erected 
the leading merchants commonly owned them. The system of barter 
is as old as the race. All primitive races have adopted this means of 
supplying their needs. Various articles have been used as a medium of 
exchange, something commonly and generally in demand such as ivory, 
skins of animals, ornaments, etc. Since the depreciation of the German 
mark, many places in Germany have reverted to the early form of barter. 
School tuitions are fixed in rye. Physicians are asking patients to pay 
their fees in produce at pre war cost. 

In the early days of Upper Canada the local merchants dealt largely 
with the importers at Kingston and Queenston. These wholesale mer 
chants acted as Bankers as well, and dealt in exchange, took deposits 
and allowed their customers to issue orders on them. Later the most 


pressing currency needs were supplied by the issue of what were known 
as army bills which circulated freely throughout the country. Halifax 
Currency was made the legal standard, but York Currency was used by 
Montreal and Upper Canada merchants in trade. The original York 
shilling was the Mexican Real, but in later times it became known as 
the British sixpence. As the demand for the decimal system became 
stronger, it finally became the standard in Canada. 

The Canadian Banking system which later was introduced, was 
founded on the system introduced by Alexander Hamilton, the First 
Secretary of the Treasury under the present constitution of the United 

What was true of most rural communities we find was the conditions 
prevailing in Smithville in these early days, Halifax Currency, barter, 
restricted trade, few channels for exchange of produce, a limited currency 
and no banking facilities. I recall the time as a lad when any large 
financial transaction necessitated a journey to Hamilton or St. Catharines. 
Banks were invited to come in and give even a one-day a week service, 
but to no avail until June zznd, 1905, when Mr. Joseph Anderson, an 
organizer of Branch Banks for the Union Bank of Canada, 
a Quebec institution, chartered in 1865 at Quebec City, came un- 
solicitea into Smithville and opened a Branch of that Institution in the 
Murgatroyd Block, where Mr. J. A. Schnicks tailor shop used to be. 
Mr. Anderson became the first Manager of Smithville s first chartered 
Bank. He is now an Inspector of that Institution, with headquarters 
at Toronto. Mr. J. M. Thomson of Hastings, Ontario, was the first 
Teller and Mr. Wesley B. Brant, son of John B. Brant of Smithville, was 
the first Junior Clerk. In February of the following year the writer en 
tered the service of the same institution, his first day s work being to 
assist in the removal to the new building, which is now the home of the 
Union Bank of Canada in Smithville. The next Manager was Mr. J. 
Gordon Moffat of Norwood, who was followed by Mr. C. Brooke Mars- 
land. Mr. Marsland s successor was Mr. H. G. Parrott, the present 

Previous to this time the firm of R. Murgatroyd and Sons, Private 
Bankers, did considerable discounting and exchange business, the latter 
being turned over to the Union Bank of Canada upon their entering the 
field. This firm of Private Bankers is still doing business in Smithville 
and is composed of Messrs. Ellis and Robert Murgatroyd, both well- 
schooled in business and commercial law, and both of them have had a 
wide business experience in the mercantile business of R. Murgatroyd 
and Sons. 

The Royal Bank of Canada one of Canada s largest Banks, establish 
ed a Branch in Smithville in the Spring of 1910, being the second Charter 
ed Bank to enter the field. These three Banking institutions give Smith 
ville and the surrounding country excellent banking accommodation. 
Mr. A. A. Hutchison is the Manager of the Royal Bank of Canada at the 
present time. No longer do the citizens drive for miles in order to trans 
act business. All their financial operations may be completed satisfac- 


torily in their own village, no matter what part of the civilized world 
the business may originate from. Smithville is proud of her financial 
institutions and of the office appointments, which have been provided, 
insuring comfort and security to the Banks numerous patrons. 


The McColloms 

James McCollom came from near Albany, N.Y., to Canada in 1793, 
and settled at Smithville. He had thirteen children, who became scat 
tered, settling at various points in Canada. Daniel, however, settled 
on the old homestead, where Jasper McCollom lived at a later period. 
Daniel had a large family. One son, Philip, remained on the old home 
stead. Another of Daniel s sons was Murry, who settled on the farm 
adjoining Philip s. It is the descendants of Murry who are the best 
known in Smithville, as they lived there for a number of years as highly 
respected citizens. There were three sons, Melvin, Harvey and Alva. 
Melvin s family consisted of Maude, Claude, Ruey, Ray and Hazel. 
Ray of this family still lives near Smithville. Harvey lived for many 
years at Smithville and his family consisted of the following children: 
Will, Nellie, Lizzie, Susan and Ethel. Alva, another son of Murry, is 
now living in Smithville. His family consists of the following: Ellis, 
Cora, Ruby and Annie. Murry McCollom also had two daughters, 
Alice, the mother of Sterling Turner of Smithville and Matilda, the moth 
er of Harry Farr, also a resident of the village. An outstanding charac 
teristic of the descendants of James McCollom is a happy disposition, 
and a kindly manner. They have been largely agriculturalists, and suc 
cessful in their calling. They have played an important part since 1793, 
in the Agricultural development of the district. Theirs was the task 
of hewing out a home in the midst of the forest, and the land cleared by 
James McCollom and his family has been kept busy producing ever since, 
by his sturdy and ambitious descendants. 

Solomon Hill 

At the beginning of the Sixteenth Century, owing to religious strife 
in England, many refugees fled to Holland, where they could worship 
in freedom as their conscience and knowledge of the truth dictated. 
Among these refugee families were the Hills, who remained for two 
generations in the Dutch country. In 1710 Anthony Hill came to Ameri 
ca, and settled in New York State. Uriah Hill, Jr., of Peekskill, N.Y., 
a great great grandson of Anthony Hill, wrote the history of the Hill 
family. The Canadian Branch of the family he traced from Anthony 
Hill down the line for six generations to the author of this little volume. 
Thomas T. Hill an attorney, now living at Carmel, N. Y., a great, great, 
great gandson of Anthony Hill, had some part in the preparation of this 
history. He states that Uriah Hill spent several thousand dollars and 
traveled several thousand miles to prove up the history and to insure 
accuracy, so that the history quoted from this book may be considered 
authentic. It is said that Anthony Hill lived at Queemans Landing, on 
the Mohawk River. He had a son, William Hill, whose wife was 


Bethiah Smith Hill, They lived at what was then known as Red Mills, 
now Mahopac Falls, N.Y. William s youngest son was Abraham Hill, 
the grandfather of Thomas T. Hill of Carmen. Another son of William 
and Bethiah Hill was Solomon, born August 3oth, 1756, at Red Mills. 
Writing of Solomon Hill, Uriah Hill, in his history, says in part: Solo 
mon Hill, M.P.P., son of William and Bethiah (Smith) Hill, born August 
3oth, 1756, at Red Mills, Dutchess, (now Mahopac Falls, Putnam) 
County N.Y.; died at Smithville, Lincoln County, District of Niagara, 
Canada, August 3 oth, 1807. During the War of the Revolution he was 
loyal to the British Government and removed from Red Mills to Cocmans, 
Albany County, N.Y., where in December, 1783, he married Bethiah, 
daughter of Richard and Mary (Smith) Griffin, and grand-daughter of 
Abraham and Margaret Smith of Philips Precinct, Dutchess County, 
N.Y. In 1795 ne removed to Smithville, Canada, where his father-in- 
law had previously removed and settled. 

For his loyalty to Great Britain a large tract of land was granted 
him by the British Government. Upon his removal to Canada, he took 
an active interest in public affairs, received a commission in the local 
Militia and in 1804 was elected a member of the Provincial Parliament, 
which office he held to the time of his death. He was a man of high 
character, exemplary habits, deeply religious, of unusual ability, and a 
very able public speaker. After the death of his father, he made a short 
visit to Red Mills and disposed of the real property devised to him by 
his father to his brothers, Abraham and Cornelius Hill. 

H. R. Page, in his history of Lincoln and Welland County, 1876, 
refers to Solomon Hill s election to Parliament against seven other candi 
dates, and refers to him as a very clever speaker. 

Solomon Hill had a son, Nathaniel, who married Eleanor Field of 
Niagara-on-the-Lake, River Road. The old homestead of Solomon Hill 
was situated where Fitz Hugh Patterson s house now stands. Nathaniel 
Hill moved part of this building to where John Woodruf Hill s cottage 
home is now located, using the old building as a kitchen and building 
the present cottage front. I believe that we are safe in saying that the 
old portion of the home is the oldest building in Smithville, as Solomon 
Hill was among the early settlers in the village. The old Crown Deed 
of this farm, no acres, composed of W. F. H. Patterson and John W. 
Hill farms, is an interesting document. It shows the transfer of this 

groperty from the Crown to Edward Griffin, to Bethiah (Griffin) Myrec, 
ethiah Myree to Jacob Myree, Jacob Myrec (step-father of Nathaniel 
Hill) to Nathaniel Hill, Nathaniel Hill to his son, John Woodruf Hill, 
(the grandson of Solomon Hill), who now owns the property. The seal 
attached to this document, dated 1798 measures four and a half inches 
in diameter, and is five-eighths of an inch thick. It was made of bees 
wax, and was the old Crown Seal of His Majesty, George III. Solomon 
Hill was a member of the fourth Parliament of Upper Canada, and was 
the first member of Parliament sent from Smithville. 


Marfin Lally 

Martin Lally was born in Balinrobe, County Mayo, Ireland, April 
6th, 1800. At the age of eighteen he concluded to try his fortune in 
new lands, and sailed for America in the good ship "Sunderland," mann 
ed by Captain Barry and crew. After some four or five weeks voyage he 
landed in Quebec, where he learned that the dreaded disease, cholera, 
was sweeping the land. He did not tarry long here, but crossed the line 
into United States, where he worked for a time in Syracuse and Lyons. 
Returning to Canada he came to Thorold. From Thorold he journeyed 
to Grimsby in Her Majesty s Mail Coach, a lumber wagon. From this 
point he went to Smithville, a hamlet of a few houses, but to him a 
promising point as a source of supply to the lumbering district of the 
Chippewa and Grand River, and a farming community covering a large 
district. His first purchase was a lot on Griffin Street, now owned by 
The Union Bank of Canada, also the property on West Street, on which 
the Lally homestead is situated. 

In 1844 he opened a general store and prepared to serve his patrons. 
Before long he felt the need of help. In Hamilton he found clerks, and 
as there was no ready-made footware or clothing available, he brought 
in tailors and shoemakers. He also started a cooper shop. The latter 
business outgrew his anticipations. In a short time he was delivering 
flour barrels to mills at St. Catharines and Thorold, pork barrels to 
Hamilton, as well as supplying the apple barrels for the fruit district 
between Beamsville and Winona. Shortly after he settled in Smithville 
he married a widow, Mrs. Hopkins,. daughter of Benjamin Fralick of the 
Township of Thorold. This family was one of the pioneer stock, her 
grandmother being one of the first three white children born at Niagara. 
She ably assisted her husband in his efforts to carve out a future in Canada. 
She had a family of nine children, seven of whom are still living. She 
died at the age of 93. 

As business increased Mr. Lally built more stores and dwellings for 
those whom he employed, all of which burned in the big fire of 1886. 
He purchased a farm west of Griffin Street where a fine limestone quarry, 
furnished building stone for those requiring it. On the north-west 
limit of his property he donated a site for the Catholic Church. When 
he came to Smithville a barn was standing where the park is now located, 
this he purchased and removed in order to improve the appearance of the 

He was active in business until the age of 76 years and died in April, 

At the time of his death the country was visited by an unusual snow 
storm of four feet deep on April 6th. The storm was so bad that Midgely 
Murgatroyd closed his store for two days, refusing to venture forth. 

Mr. Lally owned a two-horse carriage, which in his time was con 
sidered one of the finest vehicles in the neighborhood. It was purchased 
about 1850 from Homes and Greenwood of St. Catharines. The style of 
this carriage was striking and the upholstering elegant. It was built 
to convey the Prince of Wales (afterwards King Edward) through the 


city when he visited St. Catharines. As a youngster I recall playing in 
this old carriage and remember distinctly the elegance of the interior 

The Morses 

Abishai Morse, Esq., was born in the Town of Moravia, Cayuga, 
County, N.Y., on July the gth, 1805. Hi s parents were Puritans of Anglo- 
Norman lineage. He belonged to the same family as the Rev. Jedediah 
Morse, the father of American Geography, and the father of Samuel F. B. 
Morse of telegraphic celebrity. Abishai Mores s parents came to Canada 
soon after the war of i8iz. He became largely a self-educated man, and 
in later years took a keen interest in educational matters. He, with 
Robert Murgatroyd were responsible for the commencement of a High 
School in Smithville. He was a chairman of the Public and High School 
Boards for nearly thirty years. He occupied the position of Postmaster, 
Clerk of the Division Court, Township Reeve, County Warden, Magis 
trate and Councillor. He was for over fifty years a local preacher in the 
Methodist Church. He had two sons who went into the ministry. 
Mr. Morse was an outstanding figure in his day, and a leader in the public 
activities of Smithville. His son, Ernest A. Morse, lived for a number 
of years on the old Morse farm, a mile above Smithville across the Twenty 
Creek, at the point known as Morse s Rapids. He now lives at East 
Bloomfield, N.Y., where his son, George, resides. Another son, Eric E., 
lives at Ridgeville, Ontario, the only one of nine great grandchildren of 
Abishai Morse living in Canada at the present time. He is a successful 
fruit grower and a respected citizen. 

George Brant 

George Brant was born at Basingstoke, County of Hants, England, 
in the year 1818. He came to Canada with an English Regiment and 
was stationed for a time at Quebec. He was tall and carried himself 
erect, and as an old man he retained a military bearing. 

He became engaged in business in Smithville, as a merchant, druggist, 
undertaker and postmaster. He married Elizabeth Murgatroyd, a sister 
of Robert Murgatroyd. He was a prominent Mason when that organiz 
ation first had a lodge in Smithville, which was held over his drug store. 

The story is told that Mr. Brant was very fond of rice. His wife, 
leaving him to keep house for a few days, he decided that he would cook 
a good supply of his favorite dish. Buying several pounds of rice which 
did not appear to be much in bulk, he placed this in a kettle, added some 
water, and placed it on the stove. Soon the rice began to swell, and it 
was found necessary to divide the amount into two kettles, adding more 
water. Still the grains seemed to multiply, with the result that Mrs. 
Brant returned home to find all her pots and pans full of cooked rice. 

We print below an advertisement, in the form of a circular in rhyme, 
used by Mr. Brant in his business. It illustrates the fact that up to this 
period the transaction of business was still conducted largely by barter, 


or exchange of goods, rather than by the use of currency. Mr. Brant 
died at Smithville in the year 1895. 


If furniture you wish to buy, 
I ll tell you who can you sup-ply, 
And goods the best in quality, 

Brant s is the place to find them. 

Dry Goods also, there you I find, 
And they are cheap too, for the kind, 
Do not mistake but bear in mind, 

Brant s is the place to find them. 

Some Hardware too, you I also find, 
I do not say there s every kind, 
But what there is, is cheap dy e mind, 
Brant s the place to find them. 

There s furniture all kinds you need, 
And Carpets, broadcloths, Prints, & Tweed, 
And Hardware, very cheap indeed, 
Brant s is the place to find them. 

Please call, examine, ask the price, 
His son will show you in a trice, 
And if you will take my advice, 
Go to Brant s and find them. 

All kinds of produce he ll receive 
And highest prices he will give, 
And if you I only me believe, 

Brant s is the place to go to. 

Lumber, Shingles, Cord Wood, Butter, Eggs, and all kinds 
of produce, taken in exchange for goods. 


Robert C. Murgatroyd 

Robert C. Murgatroyd was born at Lansengburg, near Troy, N.Y., 
on July i4th, 182.3, of English parentage, shortly after their arrival in 
America, and came with them to Smithville when he was about nine 
years of age. His father owned the farm on which the late Thomas 
Kettle lived. In his early manhood he was paymaster in the Gloucester 
Iron Works at Philadelphia. I have heard him describe the triumph of 
Jenny Lind in that city, and I recall from boyhood his description of her 
charming manner and wonderful voice. 


For a number of years he carried on a large carriage factory business 
in Smithville m company with his father and elder brother Thomas, 
under the name of Thomas Murgatroyd and Sons. He was for a short 
time in partnership with his brother-in-law, George Brant, in the mer 
cantile business. Later on he was with his brother Midgely, engaged 
in the grist milling and wool carding business. In 1867 they purchased 
the bankrupt stock of Kerrigan Bros, of Smithville, and began the mer 
cantile business known as R. and M. Murgatroyd, which continued in 
business until 1881 when the firm of R. Murgatroyd and Sons was form 
ed, which took over the former business. This firm was composed of 
Robert Murgatroyd and his two sons, Robert, Jr., and Ellis. In 1887, 
they added banking to their business activities handling most of the 
drafts, cheques, etc., for the Banks, until the Union Bank of Canada 
opened a branch in Smithville, on June zind, 1905, when the cheque and 
draft business was handed over to them. 

Robert Murgatroyd, Sr., was one of the Provisional Directors of 
The Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway, and journeyed many times 
to Ottawa with deputations on matters concerning it. It was through 
his influence that it was deflected from a straighter course (about a mile 
from Smithville) to the village. He used his time and influence toward 
the passing of the Bonus By-Law of $4,000 from the Township. This 
provided for the stopping at Smithvillc of a certain number of passenger 
trains daily each way, which has insured the village the splendid train 
service it has today. 

I remember Robert Murgatroyd best as I saw him almost daily, 
seated in his store, where he held friendly converse with his friends and 
patrons. In front of him was a huge box stove which could swallow a 
cord wood stick wit h ease. During some part of every day the head of 
the firm would be found seated near this big stove. Whenever I had oc 
casion to go there, if I found Mr. Murgatroyd s chair vacant, it seemed 
as if something was wrong with the store. Mr. Murgatroyd had a per 
sonality which made you feel and note his absence. He knew nearly 
every man, woman and child who came in his store and greeted them in 
a kind, friendly way, which was characteristic of the man. Here, as a 
boy, I have listened to many a hot political discussion with Mr. Mur 
gatroyd championing the cause of Liberalism, and Mr. Charles Elliott 
or some other citizen upholding the banner of the Conservative Party. 
These debates were sometimes almost as warm as the big box stove, 
which was the silent witness of many a heated discussion. During elec 
tion time Mr. Murgatroyd often took the public platform as chairman of 
a meeting, or speaker for some Liberal candidate. He was a man of good 
business judgment, a loyal citizen, and of a kindly disposition. He died 
in Smithville in March of the year 1910. 

The Walkers 

This is a well-known family in Smithville. Thomas Walker and his 
wife, Grace Laidlaw, came to Smithvillc in the year 1854 from Thornhill, 
Dumfrieshirc, Scotland. They had a family of thirteen children, many 


of whom were for many years citizens of Smithville, where the boys were 
engaged in various businesses. One of the daughters of Mr. and Mrs. 
Walker was married to William Adkins, a son of Edward Adkins, a 
former resident of Smithville. Mrs. Harold Hibbard of Smithville is a 
daughter of William and Mrs. Adkins and Edward now of the Village 
of Grimsby, is a son. Both of these children were born in Smithville. 

Another of the children of Thomas and Grace Walker is Hugh D. 
Walker of Grimsby, who has made his mark as an inventive genius and 
as an industrial leader. He was born in Smithville on September the 
first, 1867. After leaving school he was apprenticed to W. H. Morgan, 
to learn the tinsmithing trade. He was then fourteen years of age. He 
remained with Mr. Morgan for three years, after which he went to Brant- 
ford. In 1887 he returned to Smithville and bought the Morgan busi 
ness. He remained in Smithville for eleven years, during which time he 
invented the first metal shingle, with a lock on all four sides. These he 
manufactured in Smithville. In 1898 he moved to Preston, where he 
started the Preston Metal Shingle and Siding Co., which has grown to 
be a large concern. In 1905 he moved to Grimsby, where he started the 
Specialty Mfg. Co. He later started the Metal Craft Co., with which 
he is still connected. 

Smithville is proud to own Mr. Walker as a son. 

Thomas Walker, Sr., died in the year 1891, in his 67th year. Mrs. 
Walker died in 1919 in her 9Oth year. 

John B. Brant 

John Banfield Brant was the son of George Brant and Elizabeth 
Murgatroyd Brant. He was born in Smithville in the month of May, 
in the year 1855. He began his business career by learning the tinsmith 
trade in Toronto, after which he opened up a business in Smithville with 
William H. Morgan. The firm was known as "Brant and Morgan." 
This partnership was carried on for a time, after which Mr. Brant took 
over the business. He was appointed Postmaster in 1879, filling the 
position which his father had previously occupied. He then sold put 
the tinsmith business. He retained the office of Postmaster for thirty 
eight years. During the last fifteen years of this term he was ably as 
sisted by his daughters, Mrs. (Rev.) Frank D. Roxburgh, now living in 
Alberta, who was very capable in performing this work, and Mrs. James 
Copeland (Gwen.) of Toronto, who also inherited her father s business 
ability. Her smiling face was always a cheering picture at the wicket. 

Mr. Brant travelled as a young man over a large part of Europe. 
In addition to filling the position of Postmaster, he was a Notary Public 
and a man of marked business ability. His hearty laugh for many years 
cheered the lives of his friends. He was a man who took all the enjoy 
ment out of life he could, and it was reflected in his happy disposition 
and hearty laughter. He died at his home in Smithville in the year 


Andrew Ruhl 

Andrew Ruhl was born in Germany and came to Canada as a young 
man. The journey across the broad Atlantic was taken in a sailing 
vessel which was three months making the voyage. They encountered 
many heavy storms and were often doubtful of seeing land again, but 
after many weary weeks they arrived in New York Harbor. 

Mr Ruhl served his apprenticeship as a cabinet-maker and at night 
attended school in order to learn the English language. He was not 
long in America before he spied a lass whom he chose as his wife. He 
said to me on one occasion: My wife, she speak no Sherman then, and I 
speak no English, but we make love shust the same. He became a first- 
class cabinet-maker of the old school and later on he opened a shop in 
Smithville in the old court house, where he made furniture for the living 
and coffins for the dead. Hiram Field and Andrew Ruhl were bosom 
friends. Hiram was an amateur ventriloquist, who practiced the art 
in order to create some amusement for himself and his friends. He 
would often call at the workshop of his friend Andrew Ruhl for a chat. 
Andrew prized his cabinet-making tools and always kept them in ex 
cellent condition. Hiram would pick up a plane, run it across an old 
board and with his ventriloquism imitate a plane striking a nail, when 
Andrew would roundly cuss him for being a t m fool. Mr. Ruhl 
later moved into a building known as the old love joy, an old hotel 
building, which was situated across from the "White Elephant," or 
"White House" hotel, and near where the office of the Royal Bank of 
Canada is now located. Here he lived and plied his trade. He later 
moved into a house on St. Catharines Street, where he was a neighbor to 
the writer. He was fond of pets and kept a pet lamb which followed 
him about like a dog, hopping and frollicking at his heels. Many happy 
times have I spent with the old gentleman, who entertained me with 
songs of Germany and stories of his early life. One day in fun I asked 
him with as innocent an expression as I could command, if Germany was 
as large as Smithville. He replied: "You t m fool, vat you know 
about Germany; as big as Smithville! You t m fool!" He had 
two sons, Lewis and Anthony and a daughter, Minnie, who was loved 
by all who knew her. 

The old gentleman had a ready wit, a good memory and remained 
youthful until the time of his death, which occurred at the home of his 
son, Lewis, at an age well over eighty years. 

The Rev. J. M. Van Every 

This dear old friend of my father and mother in reply to my request 
for a brief outline of his life and work said: "I was pleased to learn that 
a Smithville boy had the ambition to undertake to write the history of 
his native town. The subject is dear to me, and the author I highly 
esteem, knowing so well his parentage, whom I also esteemed." 

John Marshall Van Every is the son of John C. Van Every and Lousic 
Bartlett. He was born January list, 1850, at Smithville in the home 


now occupied by the Artist, John Field. At the age of fifteen he began 
teaching school in January of the year 1866. His first school was at 
Silver Street, now Bismark. When he made application for this school 
the principal trustee manifested astonishment that one so young would 
apply for the position. He retired from the room to confer with his 
wife, and upon his return said that the boy might have the school for 
three months on trial. 

The trustee s wife had favored a trial because of the pluck exhibited 
by the youngster in undertaking the task. 

Here he taught for two years. The enrollment of scholars was 85. 
His salary was fifteen to eighteen dollars per month and board was one 
dollar and a half per week. He :taught school at Abingdon for one 
year and for one year at Mud Creek. 

On Friday, November the fifteenth, 1867, he attended a young peo 
ple s prayer meeting at the home of James B. Hopkins, Smithville, and 
there made a public profession of Christ. On November i7th, 1867, he 
joined the Wcsleyan Methodist Church and in May, 1869, began his 
public ministry. 

On March i4th, 1870, he left Smithville to take up the work of the 
Christian ministry in Missouri. His first Circuit was New Loudon, Mo., 
where he had ten appointments. Here he travelled from one appoint 
ment to another on horseback. 

In 18721 he was transferred to the Detroit Conference where he spent 
fourteen years. While stationed at the Upper Peninsula he had an 
associate pastor (Indian), who preached at the Chippewa Indian point, 
extending for two hundred miles on the south shore of Lake Superior. 
While in this Conference he built up several city charges , which were 
located in the mining districts. In 1884 he was elected treasurer of the 
Detroit Conference. 

In 1889 on account of Mrs. Van Every s health he removed to Cali 
fornia. The Jamestown Daily Alert of May Z9th, 1888 said: "Mr. Van 
Every has bieen one of the most popular and successful pastors ever in 
the city. In California he did splendid work in a saloon infested dis 
trict, after which he was given a church in Oakland, California, a beauti 
ful city on the Pacific coast, where he and Mrs. VanEvery still reside. 
Mrs. VanEvery is a native of Missouri and has been a true Christian helper 
in the work of strenuous years. Reminiscing of Smithville, Mr. Van 
Every said: "When I left Smithville in 1870 the village proper had about 
five hundred inhabitants. There was only one school house where I 
attended when, now Doctor, Fred Eastman, was teacher in the public 
school downstairs, and William Cruickshank was the teacher in the 
Grammar or High School upstairs. The dignified Robert Thompson 
was Postmaster. The merchants were Martin Lally, Jos. Durkee, James 
Middleton, Cicero Harris and George Brant. The Squires were Abishai 
Morse and Jacob Kennedy. The churches were Wesleyan Methodist, 
Methodist Episcopal, Christian Universalist and Catholic. The hotels 
were run by Palmer Buckbee and Mr. Bates. There were two flour mills, 
one by the bridge and the other near the public school. The following 


men from Smithvillc went into the ministry, namely Isaac B. Tallman, 
David Kennedy, George Field, George Bridgman, Edwin McCollom, 
Abishai Morse, W. P. French, J. E. Russ and J. M. Van Every. Those 
were the days of the Kennedys, Morses, Bridgmans, Fields, Brants, 
Thomsons, Lallys, Teeters, Durkees, Murgatroyds, Collards, McColloms, 
Middletons, Hills, Nesses, Daltons, Camps, etc." Mr. Van Every visit 
ed his old home town in 1906 renewing old friends of his boyhood days. 
He takes a keen interest in all things pertaining to Smithville and has 
a warm spot in his heart for the place of his birth. Smithville on the 
other hand is proud to own him as a son. 

D. Ward Eastman 

D. W. Eastman was born in Smithville in the year 1838, and is the 
son of W. O. Eastman and Catharine Keefer. His grandparents were 
of Welsh and Alsatian origin. His paternal grandfather was the Rev. 
Daniel Ward Eastman, one of the most outstanding and most widely 
known of the early missionaries of Canada. He was a licentiate of the 
Presbyterian Church at Morristown, N.J., and came with his wife on 
horseback from that state to the Niagara District in 1801. Father East 
man, as the pioneer missionary was known, carried the gospel over In 
dian trails from Oakvillc on the east to Bothwell on the west. He 
personally organized seven Presbyterian churches in the Niagara and 
Gore District, and with the aid of two others organized the first Presby 
tery with twenty-six churches in charge. One of Mr. Eastman s charges 
was Niagara Falls South, which recently celebrated its noth anniver 
sary. Another was the church at Pelham which has passed the century 
mark. In covering the missions under his charge he rode on horseback 
through the wilderness to Oakville, Brantford, Eramosa and as far west 
as Bothwell. More than once saddlebags formed his pillow in the 
forest. Over three thousand couples were joined in marriage by him. 
The fee for performing the ceremony in the early days was small, a bag 
of grain, or, if paid in cash, usually two dollars. A story is told of one 
couple who came to the Manse to have the happy event consumated, 
who brought a bag of beans for the minister s fee. The groom, being 
doubtful about the acceptability of these, went to see the minister first. 
He had scarcely entered the Manse until he popped his head out again 
and called: "It is all right Maggie; he will take the beans. Another 
old chap who was very fond of money, after the weddine ceremony, 
handed Mr. Eastman, who had a sense of humor, a ten dollar bill, ex 
pecting to receive his change from the then customary fee of two dollars. 
Thanks, very much," said the minister, pocketing the bill. 1 sec you 
appreciate a good wife." At the age of fifty, Mr. Eastman became blind, 
but from a well-stored mind he continued to preach the )ld Gospel. 

Such was the character and life of the paternal grandfather of the 
subject of this sketch, Mr. Ward Eastman. 

His maternal grandfather was George Keefer, who, as a lad of 
cen journeyed on foot through bush trails from New Jersey to , 
and for services in the Revolutionary War received a grant of six hundred 


acres of land, covering the site of the present Town of Thorold. His 
son, Thomas C. Keefer, the most eminent Canadian Engineer of the past 
generation, surveyed the line for the St. Lawrence bridge at Montreal. 
He was elected President of the Canadian and American Society of Civil 

Mr. Eastman recalls hearing that remarkable patriot, William Lyon 
Mackenzie speak in the Methodist Church at Smithville, with Squire 
Morse in the chair. 

Mr. Eastman s education began in the old school at Middleport. 
He was appointed a trustee of the Smithville High School which office 
he held continuously for thirty-seven years. For a number of years Mr. 
Eastman kept a drug store where the Boulter store is now situated and 
the writer recalls many visits to Mr. Eastman s store, his principal pur 
chases being a cent s worth of candy. 

Catharine O. Eastman, a sister of D. W. Eastman, married on Sept. 
5th, 1865, J. T. Middleton, who became Sheriff of the City of Hamilton, 
where he still resides. Mr. Middleton is well and favorably known in 
Smithville where he lived for ten years. 

D. W. Eastman was a member of the Presbyterian Church at Smith 
ville for many years. Upon his retirement from business he removed to 
the beautiful Town of Barrie, where he still lives. He gave one son to 
the ministry, Rev. Fred Eastman, who married Emily Hamilton, a 
daughter of Doctor Hamilton, a former respected physician of Smithville. 
Mr. Eastman retains a splendid memory and a clear intellect in his 84th 
year. He is one of Smithville s sons who bears an unblemished name and 
is held in high esteem. 

John Field, Sr. 

Over ninety years of age, Mr. Field is Smithville s oldest citizen, 
and the first photographer in the village, having started a photograph 
gallery in the year 1851, with his brother George. 

The name Field comes from De La Felde, people of Normandy, who 
afterwards settled in England. Marshall Field, the great merchant of 
Chicago, was a descendent of the same Field family. The following 
history of photography will show the broad field of this art, which has 
been Mr. Field s experience, as he has followed the development of photo 
graphy from its very beginning in America. 

A Frenchman by the name of Nicephore Niepce is regarded as the 
inventor of Photography. He was the first man to obtain a permanent 
picture with the aid of light. Born in 1765 at Chalons-Sur-aone (France) 
he joined the army, but ill health and failing eyesight compelled him 
to resign his commission. With his brother Charles, he later began to 
make experiments in chemistry and mechanics. Gradually he turned 
his attention to the art of lithography and eventually the idea of forming 
sun pictures occurred to him. There are certain resinous and bituminous 
substances which when exposed in thin films to the action of light and air 
become insoluble in oils. In his process of picture making, Niepce coat 
ed a silver plate with a varnish consisting of a solution of bitumen of 


Judaea in oil of lavender. When dry this was exposed for six or seven 
hours in a camera provided with a lens. The image was developed by 
immersing the plate in oil of lavender, which dissolved the portions 
of the bitumen unaffected by the light, leaving a picture in insoluble 
bitumen. After experimenting with various materials Niepce made his 
bitumen process known in 1819, but it was never used to any great extent. 
Another Frenchman named Daguerre had also made experiments in 
3 hotography and in 182.9 n e entered into partnership with Niepce. 
When the latter died, Daguerre continued the experiments. The out 
come was the process known as the daguerrotype, which was popular 
for many years. It was with this process that John and George Field 
began their art in Smithville in the year 1851, shortly after Daguerre 
had given the process to the world. The back of the daguerrotype 
produced by the Field brothers was of copper and the front of pure silver. 
These sold for twelve shillings each. Many years after the process known 
as the tintype was introduced which sold much cheaper than the da- 
guerrotpyes. The price charged for these was twenty-five cents each. 
Mr. Field has many of these old pictures taken nearly a century ago, 
which are as well preserved and as clear as if taken but a few days. 

The Fields migrated to America and settled in New Jersey, some 
of them coming to Canada at the time of the early settlement, locating 
along the Niagara River and at other points in Ontario. Ellen Field 
of Smithville, the mother of John Hill, was a descendent of the Niagara 
River family. Other descendents of the New Jersey family living in 
Smithville are John Field, the subject of this chapter; Isaac Field, Mrs. 
Nellie Hays, daughter of Doctor Field; and Miss Mary Field. John 
Field is the father of Doctor John Field, school inspector at Goderich. 

Mr. Field is a well informed man, who at his advanced age retains 
his memory and full mental powers. 


We wish in this chapter to give our readers a few short sketches of 
the lives of some of the sons and daughters of Smithville, who have 
brought honor to their native village, in their various callings. Many 
others have gone forth into the world and carved out for themselves a 
successful and honored career. We cannot however, refer to them all, 
nor have we the information at hand to do so. To all these successful 
men and women, we would record our appreciation of their success and 
would express our joy in all that makes them happy. May they bring 
fresh honors to the village of their youth as the days and years turn their 
hair to silver and to grey. May their thoughts often turn to the old 
home fireside, to the companions of youth, and to those days which will 
sweeten the coming years as they mingle with the busy world. 

Professor Charles Patterson, son of Frank Patterson, was educated at 
Smithville High School, and Tufts College, Boston. He is now Pro 
fessor of English Literature in Massachusetts Agricultural College. 
Mr. Patterson is also an artist in Shakespearian drama. A few years 
ago he gave "The Merchant of Venice," as a benefit concert for the 
Smithville Public Library. 

Doctor John Field, Jr., son of John Field, the Photographer, was 
educated at Smithville Public and High Schools, completing his educa 
tion at College. He was for a time principal of the High School in 
Goderich. He is now a School Inspector, with headquarters at this 

Rev. William Pell French, son of John French, was educated at Smith 
ville schools, after which he took a theological course at College. He 
is now preaching the gospel in the United States. 

Edgar Russ, son of William Russ, a native of Smithville, is an or 
dained minister of the Methodist Church. 

Dr. John Cutler, Jr., son of John Cutler, is a medical doctor, practic 
ing in the United States. 

Lena Field, daughter of Isaac Field, was educated at Smithville High 
School, after which for a time she taught school. Taking advanced 
education she became a missionary of the Presbyterian Church, going out 
to the field of Trinidad. Miss Field is a clever young woman, who is 
filling an important mission in the world. 

George Bridgman, was the son of Wesley Bridgman. He was an 
artist of outstanding ability. At the time of his death he was a resident 
of the city of Vancouver. 


Professor Leslie Bridgman, son of Milton Bridgman, is a son of Smith- 
ville, who is a leader in the musical achievements of the City of Van 
couver, where he resides. 

II J am t e t s . T - Middleton, known to many of the older citizens of Smith- 
ville as "Jimmy" Middleton, was for a number of years a merchant in the 
village. He is the son of Arthur Middleton. He has for many years 
occupied the position of Sheriff in the City of Hamilton. 

Rev. Fred. Eastman, son of D. Ward Eastman, was educated at Smith- 
ville High School, and completed his education at College, after which he 
was ordained as a minister of the gospel. 

Thomas Pearson, was a Scotchman of the old school. He held the 
position of Division Court Clerk for over fifty years, with credit to the 
district and to himself. He was a respected citizen and a familiar figure 
in Smithville for many years. 

John Dunn, was a Pettifoger, who for several years, pleaded cases in 
Division Court, against the lawyers. John was of Irish descent, and 
possessed the characteristic humor of his countrymen. He was for many 
years a familiar figure in Smithville. He died in the month of July, in 
the year 19x2. at the age of 93. 

William H. Morgan is of English parentage. His father was Richard 
Morgan, of Smithville. He was for a number of years engaged in busi 
ness in Smithville, where he was highly respected. He later removed to 
Toronto, following the life of a Commercial Traveller, which position 
he still retains. He has been an active worker in the Presbyterian 
Church in Ontario. He was superintendent of a large Sunday School in 
Toronto, and is now superintendent of Knox Church Sunday School, in 
Fenwick, where he resides. Mr. Morgan is a strong champion of the 
splendid ideals and traditions of the British race from whence he sprung. 

Marcus 0. Merritt, son of Robert Merritt, has conducted successful 
singing schools throughout the Niagara Peninsula for fifty years. He 
received his early musical training from Jacob A. Griffin, a nephew of 
Smith Griffin. He has been a leader of the Methodist choir in Smithville 
for twenty years. The community is indebted to him for his splendid 
contribution to the musical training of the young during the past half 
century. Mr. Merritt possesses a baritone voice of rich quality, which 
has given pleasure to the lovers of music in Smithville for many years. 

Major F. 0. Burch, is an old Fenian Raid veteran, and has the honor 
of being the father of men prominent in the military achievements of the 
British Empire. He gave a brave son to England s cause when his son 
Edgar was killed in the South African War. Major Arthur Burch, 
another son, was a senior Chaplain in the Canadian forces in the World 
War. Major Frank Burch is an ex-member of the Township Council, 
and a respected citizen of Smithville. 


A. D. De Lacey, has been a resident of Smithville all his life. He has 
held the position of Division Court Bailiff for Lincoln County for over 
fifty years. He was for many years a successful auctioneer. During the 
long tenure of his office as Bailiff he never made himself offensive, and his 
kindly manner has made him many friends in his native village and 
county, where he is widely known. 

Doctor Sidney S. Morgan, son of Richard Morgan, was for a number of 
years Principal of Hamilton Normal School. He now occupies the posi 
tion of Director of professional training for the Province of Ontario. 
Mr. Morgan is one of Smithville s sons of whom she can be justly proud. 

Martin J. Barry was born in Smithville. He is the grandson of Martin 
Lally and lived with his grandmother until he had completed his educa 
tion at the Smithville Public and High Schools, after which he became 
active in the life insurance business. He now occupies the position of 
District Manager of the Imperial Life Assurance Co., with his head 
quarters at Guelph. He is one of Smithville s boys who has many warm 
friends in his native village. 

Mary E. Summons was born in Smithville and with her brothers and 
sisters attended school at the old red school at Middleport. While still 
in her teens her family removed to Grimsby where she attended High or 
Grammar School. She began teaching school at the age of seventeen 
and taught for forty years, retiring from the profession about five years 
ago. Most of her work was in the Niagara Peninsula. She now resides 
in Hamilton and retains a loyal friendship for all her old friends. It is 
impossible to estimate the value of such a life, devoted for forty years 
to the youth of our land. We are sure that the children who have come 
under the influence of her personality and intellect will be better men and 
women as a result of that privilege. 

Joseph M. Martin, J.P., has for many years been a prominent business 
man in Smithville. Before Smithville showed signs of progress and 
growth he had sufficient confidence in its future to build a splendid busi 
ness block, his present place of business. Strictly honorable, he has 
made a success of his business undertaking. 

Cicey Smith was a well-known character in Smithville thirty years 
ago. He lived in a little frame house near Middleport. He was a tall, 
wiry man of remarkable strength and endurance. He was a shoemaker 
by trade, and was also said to be the greatest woodchopper of his time. He 
swung a seven pound axe with speed and skill, and would lay a tree low 
with remarkable speed. He was also a great cradler. In earlier days 
many strong men who cradled in the fields from early morning until 
dark, took a great deal of pride in the record which they could make 
in the acreage cradled in a given time. Cicey was also a ventriloquist 
and often amused the children on the streets of Smithville. Beneath a 


rough exterior was a kind heart. He seldom left the village without a 
well-filled pocket of stick candy which he handed out to certain children 
on his way home. I can recall receiving some of these sweets from his 
hand. Cicey Smith is a name that will never leave the memory of many 
who are now grown up children, and sweets will never again taste as 
good as those received from Cicey s hand. 

William P. Henning, son of Doctor N. P. Henning, was born in 
Smithville, educated at the public and High Schools there and at Toronto 
University. He has filled important positions on the teaching staff s 
of the largest business colleges in the United States. He is now a teacher 
in one of the High Schools of Pittsburg, Pa. His wife is a Smithville 
girl, who was Ella Hill before her marriage. 

John Teeter is the eldest son of James Teeter of Smithville. He was 
educated in the public and High Schools of his native village. Early in 
life he showed a marked ability in art. A natural love for the brush 
and canvass has developed this talent. For many years he has painted 
the scenery for local amateur plays which have delighted the eyes of 
many audiences. Many of his oil paintings are splendid achievements 
and reflect his ability as an artist. Mr. Teeter s work is largely original 
and creative and his ability in artistic work singles him out as a genius. 
For many years he has delighted the people of Smithville with his paint 
ings of Sacred subjects, which have hung on the walls of the Presbyterian 
Church at Christmastide. 

John Cartwright was the eldest son of Sidney Cartwrighr. He was 
born in Smithville and when England went to war with South Africa 
he enlisted and went over with the Canadian Militia. A reception was 
held for him upon his return. Although he came back to his native 
village without a wound he developed a fever soon after his return which 
cut off his young life. He was of a friendly, happy disposition and the 
early call of death was sincerely regretted by his townsmen. 

Robert W. Wade or "Bob" as he was best known in his home town is 
the son of Charles Wade. He was Principal of the Smithville public 
school for a number of years. At the time of the South African War he 
joined the colors and served overseas. I heard him say on the evening 
of his return: "Well, boys, I thought I would like to fight just once for 
Old England, anyway." Mr. Wade is a born agriculturalist, the son 
of a farmer, and soon after his return from the war he attended the Agri 
cultural College at Guelph, and later became one of the Professors of 
that College. He is now head of the live stock branch of the Ontario 
Department of Agriculture, and is one of the most energetic officials of 
the . Provincial Government. He is well-known by stock men all over 
our Province. He married Maude Elliott, who was a Smithville girl. 


N. P. Henning, M.D. 

Doctor Henning followed his profession in Smithville for many 
years. He was the loved and respected family physician of many old 
families as long as he remained in Smithville. He was a clever student 
of medicine and kept abreast of the times in medical research. He was 
a man who loved honor and honesty and practiced both in his dealings 
with men. His death occurred at the home of his daughter, Mary, at 
Hamilton, having reached an age well beyond the three score years and 

/. A. Schnick was born in Germany and came to America as a young 
man. He located in Smithville where he established a tailor shop. 
He has been for many years a respected citizen of the village, taking an 
active interest in education, having been a member of the Public and 
High School Trustee Boards. He has been Superintendent of the Pres 
byterian Sabbath School for many years. He is a man of sterling quali 
ties, active in business and a worthy citizen of Smithville. 

James E. Johnston 

Mr. Johnston was a familiar figure in Smithville for many years. 
He was a clerk for the firm of R. Murgatroyd and Sons at Smithville and 
for a time conducted a branch store for them at St. Anns. Up until the 
time of his death he was a trusted and faithful employee of this firm. He 
was a man of exemplary habits, kind and courteous to all. 

Heroes of the Great War 

In response to the call for overseas service in the British army, the 
following young men of Smithville responded, and by their service and 
sacrifice on the battlefield, won the respect and appreciation of their 
native village. We present their names below with pride in their achieve 
ment and with thanks to God for their safe return to native soil: 

Gordon Shrum, University Battery; William Grassie, Artillery; 
Wesley Cartwright, Stretcher Bearer; Walter Field, 4th Canadian Mounted 
Rifles; C. Schnick, Infantry; E. Schnick, Infantry; Jack Brant, Motor 
Transport; Jack Sheppard, Despatch Rider. 

If there were any others who went from Smithville, they are in 
cluded in this tribute as men worthy of their country s pride. 

George Menitbew has been for many years a familiar figure on the 
streets of Smithville. He has lived to see many changes take place in 
the village. He is an honest old citizen, who has a smile of welcome 
for those who return to visit their native village. 

W. S. Hibbard, V.S. 

Doctor Hibbard has for many years practiced as a Veterinary Sur 
geon in Smithville. He has also conducted a horse and car livery busi 
ness for a number of years. He is widely known, and comm,ands the 
respect of his townsmen and friends. 


Doctor Tom Grassie, the son of Charles Grassic, was educated at 
Smithville schools and Toronto University. He is a successful dentist, 
practising in Welland. He has a wide circle of friends in his native 

Professor Israel Allen has been for many years a teacher of organ and 
piano and his efforts have been attended with success. He has ably 
filled the position of organist in the Methodist Church for many years. 

John S. Davis, B.A., is the son of John Davis of Smithville. He was 
for a number of years a High School teacher, after which he studied law 
at Osgoode Hall and was admitted to the Bar. He practiced law in 
Latchford and Cobalt during the boom years of these mining towns. 
He is now following his profession in his native village. 

George Davis 

Nearly every village boasts of an Amateur Dramatic Club and Smith 
ville is no exception to the rule. In earlier days such plays as "Ten 
Nights in a Bar-room" and "East Lynn" were presented to Smithville 
audiences. Among the amateur actors of this time were Frank Patter 
son, Harvey Patterson and Jerry Collins. At a later period a number 
of New England plays were presented. Some of the players were Miss 
M. Henning, Miss Grace Walker, Miss Bell Walker, Calvin Warner, 
William Trembley, George Davis, Claire McMurchie, George Henning. 
Fred Johnson and John Teeter were the artists who looked after the 
scenery for these plays. A revival of interest in amateur dramatic effort 
took place a few years ago when that charming old New England play, 
"The Old Homestead," from the pen of Denman Thompson, was pro 
duced. Some of the players in this production were Mrs. Roy Goring, 
Miss Belle Walker, Mrs. George Brant, Mrs. Harold Hibbard, Mrs. Tom 
Elliott, Clarence Merritt, W. F. H. Patterson, John Teeter, George Davis, 
Mr. Armstrong and Harry Patterson. Playing the star part, that of 
Uncle Josh, Mr. George Davis excelled many professional actors playing 
in this class of drama. Some who saw the author of the play Denman 
Thompson, act this character in New York and Chicago, declared that 
Mr. Davis was his equal. Mr. Davis as an amateur actor, is a wonder 
on the stage. "The Old Homestead" was staged under the direction 
of Mr. John Teeter, while the scenery was the product of his brush and 
was worthy of being hung in any theatre. 


The following are those who occupied the position of Squire in 

Squire Smith Griffin. 

Squire Jacob Kennedy Local Preacher. 

Squire Abishai Morse Local Preacher. 

Squire Douglas Griffin. 

Squire William Patterson. 

Squire Smith. 

Squire Bridgman. 

Squire William Adams. 

Squire Jerry Collins. 

William Forsythe was a storekeeper and Postmaster, whose place of 
business was on the sight of the present Post Office. 

The first medical doctor in Smithville was Doctor Kelly, who mar 
ried a daughter of Ned Griffin. The next doctor who practiced medicine 
in the village was Dr. Franklin. Other doctors who followed were 
Dr. Collver, Dr. Allway, Dr. Turner, Dr. Henning, Dr. McMurchie, 
Dr. Carlton, Dr. Zumpstein, Dr. Munro, Dr. George Munro, Dr. Robert 

In the days when Smithville had a carding mill they spun, wove and 
carded. Farmers traded their wool for full cloth. 

Militia. The general training of militia took place in Smithville 
in earlier days in the month of June, with Squire Ness as Captain. The 
training was followed by horse-racing, lots of whisky and frequent 

The Orangemen. The old Orange Hall was situated at the Trembley 
corner at the south end of Canboro Street. The Order had a large mem 
bership and in the year 1866 were on their glorious parade. Whiskey 
was cheap and flowed freely. John Dickey, the Marshall, rode his horse 
into Trembley s hotel and broke through the floor. The Order does not 
permit drunkenness in our own day. 

Toll Gates. The stone road leading from Smithville to Camp s 
school was known as the Buckbee road, and had a toll gate opposite 
the present residence of George Adams. Toll gates, where a toll was 
charged the traveller, were quite common in Ontario in early days. 


Musical; Bands. The following are past Band leaders in Smithvillc 
in the order of their time of leadership: Wheeler Camp, Jim Jimmerman, 
Ed. Camp, Will Camp, Elliott Taylor, Harry Patterson. 

Choral. M. O. Merritt has been a singing school master for over 
fifty years and for many years has been leader of the Methodist Choir. 

Orchestra. Mr. Isaac Copeland started the first orchestra in Smith 
ville of which we have any record. He has conducted many orchestras 
since that time. He is a teacher of violin and an accomplished player 
of that instrument, which is so difficult to master. 

Vocal. Mrs. Madge (Field) Heslop, now residing in Welland, is a 
daughter of Smithville, whose voice was carefully trained in New York 
City with wonderful results. Mrs. Heslop has a Soprano voice of re 
markable sweetness and range. 

Clarionet. Mr. Will W. Camp is an excellent clarionet player who 
was conductor of several Smithville Bands and was leader for a number 
of years of the Presbyterian choir. 

Organ. Professor Leslie Bridgman, now an accomplished musician, 
residing in Vancouver, is a native of Smithville. He was for a number 
of years a teacher of organ and piano in Smithville. 

Town meeting was held once a year when the municipal affairs of 
the district were discussed. 

Reunion. Smithville s first old boys and girls reunion was held on 
September i6th and i/th, 192.1, and was a grand success. Hundreds of 
old boys and girls met in reunion and declared it to be one of the hap 
piest occasions in their lives. The old village and her citizens just beam 
ed with hospitality and welcome. 

Smith Griffin owned the first Tannery in Smithville which was 
located on the present agricultural grounds. 

Waxey House was a shoemaker and kept store where the Martin 
Block is located. 

John Tanner s father kept a store in Martin Lally s building. Mr. 
Lally bought out the business. 

Police Village. Smithvillc first became a Police Village in the year 
1887. The first Trustees were Andrew Patterson, Edward Ad kins and 
Hugh Walker. The people became dissatisfied with the system and in 
two years reverted to the Township. 


The Durkeys were originally the McDurks of Argyleshire, Scotland. 
They came to New Jersey and changed their name to Durkey. They 
afterward came to Smithville where they operated a Tannery. Mrs. 
James Teeter and Mrs. Calvin Page are descendants of this family. 

The Camps were originally Scottish people bearing the name of 
Campbell, who espoused the cause^of Bonny Prince Charlie. They 
came to New Jersey and thence to Canada, locating at Smithville where 
they were prominent in business for many years. Mr. Will W. Camp 
is a descendant of this family. 

A distillery was once operated on the flats above the grist mill. 
There was no moonshine made here. It was all daylight production. 

Stage Coach. The stage coach drivers on the route from Smithville 
to Grimsby over the old stone road were Lew Nixon, George Merritt, 
Harvey McCollom, and John Linderberry. The old Grimsby stone road 
was built about 1856. 

Court was held in early days at Old Niagara. The jurymen received 
no mileage fee, but received the munificent sum of two shillings for each 
Jury on which they were chosen. 

Smithville s big fire occurred at midnight in the year 1886 and des 
troyed the following properties: William Morgan s store, Constable s 
printing office, a residence, Adam s shoe store, Lally s store, two houses 
and Will Adkin s store. 

Wool was carded at the carding mill and made into rolls. The 
farmers spun this into yarn and their wives knit it into socks which were 

The industries of Smithville sixty years ago consisted of two barrel 
factories. Mr. Lally employed seven shoemakers. Durkey s harness 
shop and store employed seven men. There was a carding mill and a 
grist mill. Bushe s buggy works employed thirty men. Russe s foun 
dry employed four men. Durkey s tannery employed two men, Robert s 
ashery two men. Nathan Williams operated a chair and coffin factory. 
Two sons were connected with the business, Albert and Spencer. Frank, 
a merchant of Ridgeville, is a son of Albert. At a later date George 
Copeland started a wagon works where he employed nine men. 

At one period in Smithville s past the village possessed eight 
taverns and saloons and two wholesale liquor stores. In those days 
the liquor business was not frowned upon as it is today. Drinking was 
more generally indulged in. It is saia that whiskey sold as cheap as 18 
cents a gallon, and Dug House had a strong liking for it. One day he 
took more of the fire water than usual and went home. His wife, who 
had seen him come home intoxicated on previous occasions, decided that 


it was time to administer a strong protest. She therefore proceeded to 
warm Dug s ears with the palm of her hand. After receiving several 
good slaps, Dug partly sobered and very angry left the house and pro 
ceeded to the middle of the street. Here he took off his coat, threw it 
in the dust and tramping upon it declared to the world that he could 
lick any d woman in Smithville. 

Dug was not the only man of his time who liked a little more whiskey 
than he could navigate with. Alfred Aljou came home intoxicated and 
while still wobbly in his legs he upset a jar of cream. His mother in a 
rebuking tone of voice, said: "Why, Alfred, you have knocked over that 
jar, broken it and spilled all the cream." "Well, mother," replied Al 
fred, "who in the mischief disputes you." 

The following verse was composed by some Smithville Poet who 
was probably jealous of or disapproved of certain leaders in the public 
life of the village. 

It read: 

Bishai Morse be carries the bell, 
And old T. White -y rings it, 

Joe Forsyth he sets the tune, 
And greasy Oill he sings it. 

The Old Baseball Nine. About twenty-five years ago the line 
up of the old baseball -team was as follows 
Pitcher Mr. Vanatter. 
Catcher F. Roberts. 
First Base Nibbs Culp. 
Second Base J. Deans. 
Third Base Wm. McCollum. 
Short-stop Lewis Ruhl. 
Right Field Aylmer McPherson. 
Centre Field J. O Connell. 
Left Field J. T. Grassie. 


In order to note the changes which have taken place in our native 
village it is necessary to describe it as fully as possible as we find it at 
certain periods of its history. One of such periods for review is the year 
1851. At this time the following businesses were being conducted in 
Smithville: A store business known as the "Checkered Store," because 
it was painted on the outside in squares, red and white alternate. This 
store was run by W. A. Bush and was situated where the McMurchie 
property was located at a later period. Many of the older residents of 
Smithville will recall the old checkered store. A gunshop was operated 
by Johnnie McGregor A general store was the place of business of 
Jacob and Jim Griffin. Matthew andWilliam Roberts had a shoe shop 
at this period, a business found in every community in earlier days. A 
grist mill of wood construction was operated by Taylor and Cologne, 
and a factory in the end of this building for making cloth was run by 
Mr. Potter. A saw mill was operated by Mr. Woods. A pail factory 
was run by Allen Nelson. A wagon shop, situated on the south end of 
the bridge was run by Thomas Murgatroyd, Sr., and Thomas Jr., who 
did iron work and Robert who did painting, trimming and some wood 
work. John Davis, one of Smithville s oldest citizens, worked in the 
woodwork department of this establishment. At about this time the 
firm of Murgatroyd and Russ built steam engines in the village. The 
first of these was placed in a mill on the Elliott property. At the pres 
ent time we hear of Smithville s first industry. As a matter of fact Smith 
ville had industries of considerable importance before most of her pre 
sent population was born. 

John McCollom had a harness shop on the north side of the bridge 
opposite the Murgatroyd establishment. Here Noah Davis worked. 
McColloms did the dash stitching for the Murgatroyds. The Durkeys 
ran a tannery on the Wade flats. This also was an important business 
in earlier days. 

A California swing like a ferris wheel which was run by hand, was 
located where the Martin Block now stands. Here the young men paid 
a fee and took their young lady for a trip up toward the clouds. This 
brief picture of Smithville as it was in 1851 will bring to mind some fa 
miliar places and will we trust be a source of information to the younger 



In this brief chapter we shall take a glance at Smithville as it was in 
the year 1876. It was said at this time to have a population of about 
seven hundred people. It contained the following churches, viz., Me 
thodist Episcopal Methodist, Roman Catholic, Universalist and Dis 
ciple, also a high and public school, two resident ministers, two public 
halls, a Mechanics Institute, one wholesale and retail store, four mer 
chants and general traders, three groceries, three hotels, two druggists 
and stationers, one gents furnishing shop of boots, shoes and clothing, 
two boot and shoe shops, one grist mill, one carding mill, fulling and 
cloth dressing, one saw mill and shingle factory with planing machines, 
two pump factories, one pot and pearl ashery, two iron foundries and 
machine works, three plow makers, two carriage makers shops, two 
coopers, one gunsmith, four blacksmiths, two tailors, two doctors of 
medicine, two artists, two tinsmiths, one cabinet and upholstering ware 
house, two cabinet makers, two painters, one dentist, one watchmaker, 
two harness makers, one baker, and confectioner, two builders and two 

We give below a list of citizens who lived in or near the village at 
this time, with their occupations, date of settlement, nativity and busi 



Date of 

Nativity Business 


Thomas Adams 


England.. . Shoemaker 

W. B. Adams 


Canada. . .Farmer and J.P. 

Edward Adkins 


England.. .Prop. Adkins Hotel. 

Robert A. Adams 


Canada. . .Farmer 

W. P. Buckbee 


Canada . . .Prop. Buckbee Hotel. 

William Cooper 


New York Prop. Cooper Hotel. 

D. W. Camp 


Canada . . .Carriage Manufacturer 

Hall Davis *. 


Canada . . . Harness Maker 

J. V. Daniels 


New York Farmer. 

Elliott & Woodlan 


England . .Saw Mill & wood work 

Ralph Field 


England. . .Farmer. 

C. T. Harris 


Canada . . .Merchant 

Edward Lounsburt 


Canada . . .Farmer 

Reuben Lymburner. . . . 


Canada . . . Farmer 

Robert Murgatroyd .... 


New York Merchant 

W. B. Merritt 


Canada . . .Farmer 

Abishai Morse 


New York Issuer Marriage Licenses 

John P. Merritt 


Canada . . .Farmer 

Robert H. Merritt 


Canada . . . Farmer 

Michael Nugent 


Ireland . . .Farmer 

Wm. Patterson, J.P 


Canada. ...Farmer, Saw Mill Prop. 


Capt. W. H. Patterson.. 1838 Canada . . .Farmer 

Matt. L. Roberts i84z New York Asher 

M. Roberts and Wm.. . . 1841 New York House Mover and 

Manufacturer Potash 

John Tanner 1860 Canada . . . Harness & Trunk Mfg. 

R. J. P. Thompson 1849 Canada . . . Issuer Marriage Licenses 

Gilbert Wrong 1875 Canada . . .Farmer 

John A. White 1870 Canada . . .Farmer 

Silas Wardell 1846 Canada . . .Farmer 

The location of the places or business and public institutions, owners 
of lots, homes, etc., at this time, were as follows: 

Foundry where present Agricultural Hall stands. 

Post Office where Dr. Zumstein now lives. 

Buckbee s Hotel where Merritt house is located. - 

M. E. Church where the Presbyterian Church is located. 

Cooper s Hotel where the Village Inn now stands. 

Grist and Woollen Mills where present grist mill is located. 

Universalist Church Near the residence of Frank Hays. 

Elliott and Woodlan Saw Mill on present Elliott property. 

Ashery Along the Twenty Mile Creek below the bridge. 

Martin Lally and I. W. Cook owned nearly all the land facing 
Griffin and Canboro Streets. West of the Lally property was the Henry 
Smith Estate. The property facing Station Street was owned by A. 

Miss C. Murgatroyd owned the property east of Canboro Street and 
the property east of that was owned by Nathaniel Hill. The property 
at the west end of Colvcr Street was that owned by R. C. Griffin. 

Richard Morgan and John N. French, Mary Teeter and William 
Cooper owned the lots on Brock Street. 

If we compare the Smith ville of 1876 with the Village of today we 
shall see what a complete change has taken place in the location and 
nature of the businesses engaged in, and also the almost complete change 
in the ownership of land. 


Our native village in igiz was not unlike many Ontario villages. 
Situated on the line of the Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway, it 
had excellent train accommodation. Its places of business embraced 
five grocery stores, one hardware store, a jewelry store, bakery, harness 
shop, butcher shop, tin shop, three general stores, two barber shops, 
shoe stores, five blacksmith shops, implement shops and other lines of 
business. During this year the council laid a mile and a half of new 
cement sidewalks, a marked improvement over the old plank walks of 
the past. At this time the population of the village was 600. 

During this year the Agricultural Society, established fifty years 
previous, added new buildings and improved the exhibition grounds. 
The Officers for the year of this Society were: A. J. Nevills, President, 
and W. F. H. Patterson, Secretary. Mr. Patterson has held this position 
in the Society for a number of years and has been a hard worker in the 
interests of local agriculture. 

The village had one Banking Institution, the Union Bank of Canada, 
which was under the management of Mr. C. Brooke Marsland, an Eng 
lish Banker of genial disposition, who succeeded Mr. J. Gordon Moffat. 
The most important asset of the village, next to its educational institu 
tions was its public library, which was located in the Martin Block. 
Mr. J. M. Martin was librarian. This library was built up from a very 
small beginning by the untiring efforts of Mr. W. F. H. Patterson, Mr. 
John Roberts, Messrs. Robert and Ellis Murgatroyd, Mr. Jerry Collins, 
Rev. F. D. Roxburgh and other citizens of the community. Mr. Frank 
Roberts was the municipal clerk, filling that position in a very efficient 
manner. The municipal council consisted of the following: 

Charles Grassie, Reeve. Mr. Grassie had resided in the village for 
twenty-two years. He was elected to the position of Reeve three times 
by acclamation. He also held the position of Deputy-Reeve for several 
years. He was a carriage manufacturer and blacksmith, and also con 
ducted a lumber business. He was a member of the High School Board 
and in religion was a Presbyterian. Mr. Grassie was a man who held 
the respect of the community. 

A. D. Middaugh as a member of the council, was highly respected. 
He was a capable administrator of Municipal affairs. 

Ithamer Nelson was a member of council for several years and was 
a progressive and highly respected farmer. 

A. G. Boulter was a successful business man and a capable councillor. 
Jacob Morley, another member of council, was proprietor of the 
Smithville flour mills. He was well and favorably known. 

Smithville had no less than five churches: Methodist, whose 
pastor was Rev. Dr. Scanlon; Presbyterian, Rev. Alex. Wilson; Disciple, 
no regular minister; Anglican, Rev. W. G. O. Thompson; Roman Catho 
lic, Rev. Father Kelly. 


The Principal at the High School at this time and for ten years previ 
ous was James Tremeer, a man of sterling character and outstanding 
ability as an educationalist. 

The High School Board at this time was composed of the following : 
J. A. Schnick, merchant tailor; G. L. Griffin, farmer; W. B. Shrum, coal 
merchant; T. N. Vance, retired farmer; E. W. Murgatroyd, Private 
Banker, and J. S. Davis, barrister. 

Some of the principal industries were: S. W. Woodlan s foundry 
and machine shop. This business was an old established one, owned 
and managed by Mr. Woodlan who was the inventor of one of the best 
farm discs that has been placed on the market. Mr. Woodlan was a 
man of genial disposition, Christian character and a highly respected 

Mr. W. E. Sheppard conducted a repair shop. He is a man of con 
siderable ability as a machinist, and is well-known in Smithville. 

Robert E. Book conducted a planing mill. He is a young man of 
thrift and progress. 

In agriculture Smithville can boast of having one of the most suc 
cessful and efficient fruit and vegetable growers in Ontario. Mr. George 
Adams, whose farm is situated on the Twenty Flats above the village, is 
the best posted man in fruit and vegetable cultivation in the county. 
His years of study and experiments in plant life have made him an au 
thority on their growth and development. 

This brief chapter, picturing Smithville in 1912., will enable the 
reader to note the progress made in the ten years following and may 
profitably be compared with the chapter on Smithville in 


Smithville, having once been a Police Village and reverted to the 
Township, decided to try it again, and in November, 1914, it again be 
came the Police Village of Smithville. The first Trustees were Roy J 
Goring, W. F. H. Patterson and Charles Grassie. The first business 
meeting was held on January nth, 1915. The Trustees in igiz were 
Ellis Murgatroyd, M. Simmerman and William Trembley. 

The village has it own electric light and power system, obtaining 
power under a long lease from the Hamilton Cataract Power, Light and 
Traction Co., in 1915. 

Natural gas was obtained in 1910 from the Chippewa Oil and Gas 

V <\J 

The main streets of the village, Griffin and Canboro, were paved 
with tarvia in 1919 and completed in 192.1. 

In 192.2. the population of the village was 750. 

Mr. Roy Goring was President of the Board of Trade, a live or 
ganization which has done splendid work during the past few years in 
local improvement and development. Mr. H. G. Parrott, manager of 
the Union Bank of Canada, was secretary of this organization. 

The largest mercantile establishment in the village, that of Messrs. 
R. Murgatroyd and Sons, was sold in 1910 to Messrs James R. Goring 
and Son, who have built up a large business and remodelled the store, 
so that it compares favorably with the finest stores in the cities. 

Mr. Roy J. Goring, the junior member of this firm, has done much 
toward the improvement of Smithville. As a village Trustee and as 
President of the Board of Trade, he has been an active leader in all move 
ments for the advancement of Smithville. 

Another adopted son of Smithville is Mr. Hanson Gracey, who for 
a number of years conducted an implement business in the village. He 
later became engaged in real estate transactions and was honored by the 
Reeveship of the Township in which he has done splendid work for 
education and progress. It is impossible to estimate the debt which 
Smithville owes to the sons of other communities who have come to the 
village, shown a confidence in the future of the place and put their shoul 
der to the wheel of progress. While it was the work of the ancestors of 
the native villagers to pioneer the district and lay the foundations, it 
has fallen to the lot of the adopted sons and daughters to, in a large 
measure, start the village on the road to growth and progress. 

In the year 19x1 there were ten new houses constructed. The 
houses which have been built in the village during the past few years 
have been large and of good appearance. 

The places of business are the following. The up-to-date flour mill 
of E. B. Acton, flour and feed store of Isaac Collins, saw mill of Robert 
E. Book, saw mill of Wm. Mitchener, The Smithville Metal Industries, 
Bakery of Bert Shrum, Garage of W. E. Sheppard, Garage of Vail and 


Wilcox, Implements and Automobiles Business of M. B. Cosby, butcher 
shop and grocery of Mr. Boulter, shoe store of J. M. Martin, general 
store of R. J. Goring and Son, general store of L. P. Killins, general 
store of Mr. McMillan, furniture and undertaking business of Ernest 
Merritt; Merritt House Hotel, Charlie Adams, proprietor; Village Inn, 
proprietor, Ransom Cooper; law office of J. S. Davis, law offices of Brad 
ford and Bradford, Red Front Store of Mr. Smith, tailor shop of J. A. 
Schnick, blacksmith shop of J. Teeter and Son, blacksmith shop of H. 
Couse, drug store of Mr. Henderson, Samuel Fisher s machine shop, 
hardware store of F. Hays, and creamery of Mr. Bartlett. 

It may be noted here that very few of the proprietors of businesses 
in Smith ville in 191.2. are Smith ville citizens by birth.. They are, how 
ever, energetic men who have the best interests of the village at heart, 
and are striving unitedly to make it a bigger and better place in which 
to live. 

A moving picture theatre is operated by Mrs. Jack Shepard. 

The Postmaster at this time was Mr. Vance; the Principal of the High 
School, Mr. Judge; the Librarian, Bert Griffin, a descendant of the found 
ers of the village. The Reeve of the municipality was Hanson Gracey; 
the station agent, Mr. Kelly, the night operator, Jack McDonald, the 
dentist, Dr. Lymburner; the medical doctors, Dr. Zumpstein, Dr. Munro 
and Dr. Robertson; the Presbyterian minister, Rev. Mr. Radford; the 
Methodist minister, Rev. Mr. Ayers. 

The village has a Masonic Lodge with a fairly large membership. 

The Women s Institute branch is a splendid community organization. 

With its schools and churches, wide streets and attractive homes, 
its electric lights, its two lines of railway, its connection with the good 
roads systems of the Province, with its law-abiding and contented popu 
lation, Smith ville can truly be said "a desirable place in which to live." 
What a transformation from the days when Richard Griffin and his son 
cleared the first acre of land, when the tread mill ground the grain, when 
the hum of the spinning wheel was drowned by the cry of the wolf. 
As we recall those early days and compare them with those of our gener 
ation we can readily see the advantages, the conveniences, the luxuries 
which are ours to enjoy, of which our sturdy forefathers knew 

As we accept these privileges of our day and generation, may we 
recall with grateful hearts the story of the struggle of our ancestors to 
carve out for their posterity a home and a community under the old 
British flag for which they had fought, and under whose protection they 
had lived all their lives. May we realize that it is our privilege and 
duty to pass on to our children and to future generations the privileges, 
the ideals, the liberty under British institutions, which have been handed 
down to us. May we continue to dwell in harmony and good-will to 
gether in the spirit of helpfulness and good-fellowship, ever mindful of 
our common ancestry and common heritage.