FRANK E. PAGE
THE "KENACHDAW" RIVER OR TWENTY MILE CREEK
PLOWING IN EARLY DAYS
THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
FRANK E. PAGE
Welland - Canada
No. NAME PAGE
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
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
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
THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
"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.
THE VALLEY OF YOUTH
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.
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.
8 THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
/ 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
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
THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
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.
THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
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
iz THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
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.
1 4 THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
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
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.
1 6 THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
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.
JAMES HARVEY GRIFFIN
JAMES DOWLIN PAGE
MARY ( Polly j FISHER 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-
1 8 THE STORY OF SMITH VILLE
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
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
FIRST INHABITANTS 19
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.
io THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
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
FIRST INHABITANTS zi
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
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-
EARLY LIFE 2.3
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,
14 THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
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
EARLY LIFE 15
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
i6 THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
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
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
EARLY LIFE 17
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
EARLY GROWTH 2.9
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
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
THE WARDELLS 31
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
RICHARD THE SIXTH AND HARVEY GRIFFIN
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.
RICHARD SIXTH AND HARVEY GRIFFIN 33
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
DEACON PAGE S ELOPMENT
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.
DEACON PAGE S ELOPEMENT 35
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.
3 6 THE STORY OF SMITH VILLE
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
DEACONgPAGE S ELOPEMENT 37
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
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
3 8 THE STORY OF SMITH VILLE
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:
DEACON PAGE S ELOPEMENT 39
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.
FIRST COUNCIL MEETINGS
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
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.
FIRST COUNCIL MEETING 41
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.
42. THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
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.
THE FIRST FOUR PARLIAMENTS OF UPPER CANADA.
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
44 THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
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 FIRST FOUR PARLIAMENTS OF UPPER CANADA 45
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
46 THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
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 FIRST FOUR PARLIAMENTS OF UPPER CANADA 47
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-
48 THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
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.
CELEBRATION AT SM1THVILLE JULY 1st. 19C4
"SMITHVILLE IN 1922 Griffin Street South
THE FIRST FOUR PARLIAMENTS OF UPPER CANADA 49
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
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.
THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
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.
56 THE STORY OF SMITH VILLE
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
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
5 8 THE STORY OF SMITH VILLE
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,
BARTER, BANKS AND BANKING
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
60 THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
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
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-
BARTER, BANKS AND BANKING 61
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.
PROMINENT CITIZENS OF SMITHVILLE PAST AND PRESENT
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.
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
PROMINENT CITIZENS, PAST AND PRESENT 63
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.
64 THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
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
PROMINENT CITIZENS, PAST AND PRESENT 65
city when he visited St. Catharines. As a youngster I recall playing in
this old carriage and remember distinctly the elegance of the interior
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 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,
66 THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
or exchange of goods, rather than by the use of currency. Mr. Brant
died at Smithville in the year 1895.
VER SAP SAT
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.
PROMINENT CITIZENS, PAST AND PRESENT 67
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.
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
68 THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
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
PROMINENT CITIZENS, PAST AND PRESENT 69
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
70 THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
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
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
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
PROMINENT CITIZENS, PAST AND PRESENT 71
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
7 z THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
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
PROMINENT CITIZENS, PAST AND PRESENT 73
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.
SHORT SKETCHES OF SMITHVILLE CITIZENS
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.
SHORT SKETCHES OF SMITHVILLE CITIZENS 75
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.
76 THE STORY 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
SHORT SKETCHES, ETC. 77
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.
7 8 THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
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.
SHORT SKETCHES, ETC. 79
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.
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.
BRIEF RECORDS OF SMITHVILLE
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 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.
BRIEF RECORDS OF SMITH VILLE 81
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.
8i THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
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
BRIEF RECORDS OF SMITHVILLE 83
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.
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.
SMITHVILLE IN i8 5 z
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
SMITH VILLE IN 1876
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
England.. . Shoemaker
W. B. Adams
Canada. . .Farmer and J.P.
England.. .Prop. Adkins Hotel.
Robert A. Adams
Canada. . .Farmer
W. P. Buckbee
Canada . . .Prop. Buckbee Hotel.
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
England. . .Farmer.
C. T. Harris
Canada . . .Merchant
Canada . . .Farmer
Reuben Lymburner. . . .
Canada . . . Farmer
Robert Murgatroyd ....
New York Merchant
W. B. Merritt
Canada . . .Farmer
New York Issuer Marriage Licenses
John P. Merritt
Canada . . .Farmer
Robert H. Merritt
Canada . . . Farmer
Ireland . . .Farmer
Wm. Patterson, J.P
Canada. ...Farmer, Saw Mill Prop.
86 THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
Capt. W. H. Patterson.. 1838 Canada . . .Farmer
Matt. L. Roberts i84z New York Asher
M. Roberts and Wm.. . . 1841 New York House Mover and
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.
SMITHVILLE IN 1911
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.
88 THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
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
SMITH VILLE IN 1912.
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
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
90 THE STORY OF SMITHVILLE
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
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.