Ancestral Notes

My Family History blog

“Legacy To Buxton” by Arlie C Robbins

I am always looking in the book section when I go to yard sales and flea markets. I have found quite a few books about Canadian history, and family history books including some interesting local history books. I must admit, that since I was a child and I first went to “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Dresden, Ontario, I have been interested in the black history of the area. This book is the history of North Buxton, the Elgin Settlement, about where the people came from, a history of Africa, colonial America and slavery, the difficulties and life before coming to Canada and after. She tells of the history of the settlement , the families that settled there, where the individual families came from, and stories of their lives.

Here is an excerpt about the first settlers:

“The first people to become permanent citizens of the Elgin Settlement were Isaac Riley and his family of four. Three more children would be born in the settlement. He had come from Missouri, first to live among the French in Essex County, then to St. Catherine’s and finally upon hearing of the new Settlement, to arrive here in November of 1849. On December 2nd, he became the first settler to purchase land. While here her took an active interest in Settlement affairs, becoming an elder in the Presbyterian Church. As mentioned before, his son Jerome became a doctor and helped establish the Freedman’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. in 1863 while another son, John, became a minister in Kentucky. He and his family would leave the Settlement in March of 1880 and move to Nebraska, where many of his descendants can be found today.”

“Arlie C. Robbins lived all of her life in North Buxton, Kent County, Ontario.” “Mrs. Robbin’s efforts to preserve the history of blacks in the Kent County, Ontario area was recognized by the Canadian Government with the awarding of the Centennial Medal “in recognition of valuable service to the nation” in 1968. She has worked on several research projects in an effort to uncover the history of the people of the Elgin Settlement and North Buxton and their descendants. Mrs. Robbins has acted as assistant curator and curator of the Raleigh Township Centennial Museum in North Buxton for a total of four years. She has been the secretary of the R.T.C.M. Board since it’s formation in 1970.

related topics: Buxton National Historic Site & Museum

Filed under: Genealogy, Research Resources, , , ,

The Virtual Reference Library – Toronto Pubic Library

The Virtual Reference Library is a great resource.

The Virtual Reference Library offers access to:

  • librarian-selected websites
  • self-guided research support
  • library information.

The VRL is a subject-based, reliable, Internet information source with special focus on Canadian and Ontario information.

The Virtual Reference Library works in partnership with library systems across Ontario to provide access to content and services specifically targeted to Ontarians of all ages, ethnic origin and from all parts of the province. The contributions of the public libraries of Hamilton, Kitchener, Milton, Ottawa, Timmins and Windsor are acknowledged with thanks.

The VRL was launched in 1999 and created and maintained thanks to:

  • the leadership and the human and technical resources of Toronto Public Library
  • funding from Toronto Public Library and the Province of Ontario through the Ministry of Culture.

Toronto Public Library is the largest public library system in Canada with 97 branch locations and two Research and Reference Libraries – the Toronto Reference Library at 789 Yonge Street and the North York Central Library at 5120 Yonge Street.

Vision Statement

The Virtual Reference Library aims to be a subject-based, reliable and easily accessible source of information on the Internet with an emphasis on Canadian information.

The Virtual Reference Library helps users to find meaning as well as information. It engages the imagination and supports personal development through learning and creativity.

The VRL promotes free and equitable access to online resources and tools in Ontario through collaboration and partnerships with libraries, governments and other organizations across the province.

The VRL aims to pursue partnerships with other libraries and agencies to share data and information as part of an international network of web portals.

Mission Statement

The VRL provides free and equitable access to online services that meet the changing needs of the people of Toronto and Ontario. It supports learning and engages the imagination.

The VRL preserves and promotes universal access to a broad range of human knowledge, experience, information and ideas in a welcoming and supportive environment.

The VRL is available around the clock on the Internet.

Toronto Public Library provides the leadership, human and technical resources, and contributes to the funding that supports the VRL.

The VRL plays a key role in the delivery of Toronto Public Library electronic services

The VRL works in partnership with libraries across Ontario to select, develop and create content and tools for all Torontonians and Ontarians including

  • Students of all ages
  • Specific audiences such as Seniors, Entrepreneurs, and New Canadians
  • People seeking information for personal growth or interest and life-long education

The VRL takes advantage of the dynamic nature of the web and creates a framework that enables growth and expansion over time.

Filed under: Genealogy, Research Resources, , , ,

Tombstone Tuesday – Tecumseh

Tecumseh died in the Battle of the Thames in the war of 1812. This memorial is on Longwoods Road outside of Moraviantown, Ontario, Canada.

Filed under: Daily Genealogy Blogging Themes, Tombstone Tuesday, ,

Mystery May Be Solvable

I have been contacted by a fourth cousin yesterday who may have solved the mystery of why my great-grandfather changed our surname. She was told by a family member that John Haines was being harassed by the telephone company because he had the same name as another man in the area who was being sued. She said that he had the name legally changed, so now I’m on a hunt for any records of the legal name change.

I couldn’t find any records to support the story about a legal name change, for any reason. If there was a legal name change it would have been recorded.

Filed under: Brick Walls, Genealogy, , Charges For Free Resources

There are quite a few resources at Ancestry by subscription that can be had for free if you just know where to look. Internet Archive is an underused resource with such treasures as the Winslow Papers, Edgerton Ryerson’s Centennial Celebration of the Settlement of Upper Canada where the old loyalist list is located, History of Plimouth Plantation (from William Bradford’s book), all sorts of town records, military records, muster rolls, history books, memoirs, biographies, autobiographies, genealogies etc. for free download in a variety of forms. The books are searchable and easy to copy and paste.
When I have some free time I like to see what’s new, and I always find at least one book that is useful in my research.
This is a great way to share resource books that are copyright-free or open-source too. That’s where they come from, individuals take the time to scan every page of the original book and upload it to the site in PDF format. Since all of these nice people do this for us, the public, voluntarily, shouldn’t it be our duty to check there first before going to Ancestry?

 related topics

Filed under: Genealogy, Research Resources, ,

The Holden Family Homestead

In 2007, we went to the Heritage Village in Essex County for a flea market, we go every year, and there was a new building that I hadn’t seen the previous year, so I went to take a look. The building wasn’t ready for display at that time, and all of the buildings are locked during special events. As I got closer, I was amazed at the size of the building, most of the buildings are a lot smaller, but the most amazing thing about it was the name on the plaque by the door. It was donated by the descendants of James Holden, who came to Essex County about 1861. James Holden was my 4th great-grandfather!
I have yet to go inside and look around, maybe I’ll plan a trip this weekend.

Filed under: Family Files, Genealogy, O'Neil/Neil, , ,

Wordless Wednesday

Alexander Taylor, son of Alexandre Taylor and Grace Duncan, circa 1860
2nd great-uncle

Alexander Taylor & Mary Smith Taylor, circa 1860

Filed under: Daily Genealogy Blogging Themes, Fairbairn, Family Files, Genealogy, Wordless Wednesday, ,

COG Local History – “The Tomato Capital of Canada”, Leamington, Ontario

Essex County was at one time, completely under ice, and when it receded the first bluff of land to emerge was the Ridge, just west of the town of Leamington, which was made as the glaciers receded. The inhabitants of the area were Iroquois Indians, who were a warring nation. Essex County was one of the last areas in the province to be settled for this reason. Samuel de Champlain made raids against the Iroqois in 1609 and 1615 and was able to penetrate the lands as far as the Detroit River. Lake Erie was the last of the Great Lakes to be explored and charted, early explorers bypassed the lands and used a northern route to the upper lakes. Militia from France arrived in 1666 and the Iroquois threat was neutralized. The first white men in the county were Robert Chevalier de LaSalle accompanied by, Rev. Francois Dollier de Casson, a Sulpican priest, and deacon Rene Brehant de Galinee, who camped at Point Pelee in the spring of 1670. Galinee called this region “the Terrestial paradise of Canada”. Essex County was a “no-man’s land” between the British and Iroquois on one side and the French, Algonquin and Hurons on the other. In 1701 Cadillac founded the settlement on the “Straits” which later became Detroit. By the 1730’s the voyageurs were using the fort at Detroit as their headquarters, while the Canadian side was still populated only by Indians.
After the British victory in the Seven Years War, and later, the Pontiac War, the area was still not attracting settlers. It wasn’t until the end of the Revolutionary War and the influx of United Empire Loyalists to the country that the Indian threat was reduced. The threat was not gone, however, and many early pioneers had to ransom their wives and children from the natives.
The first town plan in the county was Colchester, in 1787. Southwest Ontario was then known as the District of Hesse. Upon the arrival of Lt.Col John Graves Simcoe from England, in 1792, the region was renamed the Western District. The boundaries were Lake Erie on the south, the Detroit River on the east, the Thames River on the west and four miles south of Lake St. Clair on the north. These boundaries were expanded to the north, in 1800, to Lake St. Clair.
The first Loyalist settlers to come, Captain Mathew Elliot and Captain William Caldwell, arrived in 1783 to Malden Twp. The land on the Canadian side of the Detroit River was given to the military officers and Indian interpreters, so the land on the north shore of Lake Erie was purchased from the Indians in 1787 and named the “New Settlement” to distinguish it from the ‘Old Settlement” in Amherstburg and Sandwich on the Detroit River. In 1790, the name was changed to the “Two Connected Townships” and twelve lots were added to the eastern border. The entire area was open for settlement by 1788, when Point Pelee and Pelee Island, the last two parcels of land still held by Indians was leased to settlers for 999 years, but it wasn’t until the 1820’s that the Ridge leading to Leamington started to see settlers, the section was opened as Talbot Road.
The Loyalists who moved here had to cut through the thickest forests in North America. For fifty years the pioneers of the county fought to clear the dense virgin forest. Fire was the quickest way to clear the land, and the glow of lumber burning could be seen as far as Chicago, 300 miles away. Leamington was the last area to be tamed, remaining unsettled until the Talbot Road and Middle Road opened it up in 1823.
The first settlers to clear a farm in the area were Alexander Wilkinson, John McGaw and Thomas Quick. Ralph Foster came in 1826 and built a log cabin and cleared 164 acres along with his sons. In 1852 he noticed the odour of natural gas on his farm and later oil was discovered and the Leamington oil field was developed.
The first post office and store was opened 1n 1833 on Talbot Road, near the Four Corners, later Wilkinson’s Corners.
Leonard Wigle, born in Gosfield Twp., Essex County in 1804, bought a bush farm of 200 acres and cleared the land. He was a prosperous farmer and opened the first tavern in the area in 1836. His tavern was a popular stop for travellers along Talbot Road. In 1845 Eli Deming opened a store near the tavern .
With the growth in transportation and population, there was a land boom, and Essex County was the first in Canada to be affected by speculative values which led to price increases in other areas. In 1855, eggs were 25 cents a dozen, while in 1850 they were only 5 cents a dozen.
William Gaines opened a grist and saw and carding mill in 1855 which gave employment to labourers, who in turn began putting up their own houses. Warren Kimball was the first Postmaster on June 1, 1854, with the office adjoining his shoe shop and house. He also built the first house in Wilkinson’s Corners. When the first Post Office was set up, the name of Gainesville was given to it, in honour of William Gaines, but, since there was already a Gainesville post office, the name was changed to Leamington, after Royal Leamington Spa in southern England. By 1860 the village of Leamington had a population of 75, with small commercial and industrial businesses, farms, mills, and Baptist, Methodists and Anglican churches and stagecoaches ran on a regular schedule from Leamington to Windsor.
Alexander Wilkinson and John McGaw made the first survey of the community in 1855.
After the outbreak of the civil war in the US, the farmers started raising livestock, to sell to the US. army. After the Civil War, the US ended the pact for foodstuff crossing the border without tariffs from Canada and the farmers were forced to go into specialized farming of fruits and vegetables.
After the railway service was extended to Leamington, markets in Windsor and Detroit were more accessible and the agricultural industry flourished. Before this the area had excellent dock facilities and an active shipping trade in timber, lumber and agricultural goods. Tobacco was being grown with 10,000 pounds exported annually.
At this time, the settlement had a grist mill, owned by John Askew, a sawmill operated by Russell and Wigle, saddlers Pulford and Sherwood, two carriage factories of W.S. Pulford and W.F. McKenzie, sash, door and blind factories, a telegraph office and four teachers in a public school.
The community was incorporated into a village on Nov. 26, 1874 with George Russell as it’s first reeve and John Selkirk as it’s first village clerk. Members of the first council were Charles H. Fox, William Hazelton, John Setterington and Peter Conover.
John Askew built the first flour mills in 1868 and in 1884, remodelled them with a complete modern roller system. He bought and brought the first Hungarian system rollers into the country. In 1872, after the great Chicago fire in 1871, Leamington developed it’s first fire department, which was a volunteer bucket brigade. The population at this time had reached 300. In the late 1870’s the department got it’s first pump. On May 14, 1883, the main business section was destroyed by fire.
Leamington’s first electrical lighting plant was set up in a saw-mill in 1888.
In January, 1890 Leamington was incorporated as a town. The first concrete sidewalks were starting to be constructed in 1895. By 1899 water-mains were installed and fed by Artesian wells.
The marshland around the area was drained to provide more fertile land by the turn of the century. The area was producing grapes, peaches, and other vegetables.
In 1905, a report in the Toronto Globe and Mail described Essex County as “Eden without the serpent”. the report lists corn, wheat and tobacco as the three major crops. A Leamington dispatch of that year states “South Essex puts crops first on the market before any other part of Ontario. New potatoes, peas, beans and tomatoes are being shipped out, cherries on the market for some time and strawberries about due”.
On November 16, 1908 the town purchased the Henry Ward Tobacco Co. building and turned it over to the H. J. Heinz Company along with free water as incentives to relocate here. The H.J.Heinz Company established a food-processing plant in 1909 which was the most important single event in our economic history. The greenhouse industry was introduced to the area in the 1940’s to extend the growing season for tomatoes to supply H.J.Heinz Company, and by 1959, Leamington was the source of 2/3 of the tomatoes produced in Canada.*

The Leamington area boasts one of the world’s largest greenhouse industries and is still growing. The Tomatofest is held in August at the start of the processing season.
Pelee Island Winery is world-reknowned and Point Pelee National Park has been recognized as one of the best places in the world for bird-watching. The population in the town has increased to over 20,000.

*Source: Leamington’s Heritage 1874-1974 – Compiled by Francis Selkirk Snell

Filed under: Carnival of Genealogy, Carnivals, , , ,

Madness Monday

There are some questions about my family history that I don’t think I’ll ever have the answers to and I am going to list the top ten here. I have wasted many hours trying to find the answers and am no closer than when I started.

  1. Why did John Haines change his surname to Hines?
  2. What was Joseph Haines, Sr’s wife’s name?
  3. What was Lydia Haines’ maiden name?
  4. What was Maria Freisman’s maiden name?
  5. Who was Thomas Fairbairn of Fogo’s father?
  6. What was the name of Joseph Haines, Sr., UEL’s son who died in the Revolutionary war?
  7. What was John Doane’s wife’s maiden name?
  8. Was Daniel Doane, Sr. married to Constance Snow?
  9. Who was Titus Doan, Jr’s wife?
  10. Where did all the Freismans go?

Maybe I’ll find out the answers someday, but I’m not going to dwell on them anymore. Now, on to new mysteries…

Filed under: Daily Genealogy Blogging Themes, Madness Monday,

Saturday Night Fun, Sunday morning

It’d be easier to search for my family
If everyone stayed in one place
My patience is what sustains me
And what is my saving grace.

It’d be easier to search for my family
If everyone kept the same name
But, alas, names keep evolving,
Whatever the reason, be it ignorance or shame.

The O in O’Neil, though ancient and proud
Was dropped when the British oppressed
The O’Neils and their kind from the Emerald Isle
The famine got rid of the rest.

Though Haines were abundant in colonial days,
And common in Loyalist U.C.
No fewer than four separate families
Came after the war, to be free.

My great-grandfather, a man born John Haines,
Sent me on a wild-goose chase
Looking everywhere for Hines’ in Ontario
‘Cause that’s the name on his final resting place.

The Donnes of Great Britain, changed an “N” for and “A”
When they came to Plymouth Colony
The Doans, who were Quakers, dropped the “E”
And they’re all in my family.

The Shewels became Shuels after immigrating
From Ireland, soon after arrival
To escape the starvation and apathy at home
And ensure their family’s survival.

In 1749, to the city of Brotherly Love
The Steinseffers, from Germany came,
Changed their names in time to assimilate,
To the Stonecypher and Stonecipher names.

The French-Canadians were no exception,
The Desbiens all descend from Denis de Bien,
The Tremblays from Pierre du Tremble,
Not to mention mis-spelling now and then.

These are a few names, off the top of my head
That in my genealogy exist.
There are a lot more, to confuse me further,
Too many to try and list.

Filed under: Daily Genealogy Blogging Themes, Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, ,

April 2009