SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK THIRTEEN

Some First Events:  Lanark’s First 100 Years

By Howard Morton Brown

Carleton Place Canadian, 14 May, 1959

 

For the countless stories of personal, business and community adventure which were written long ago by the deeds of Lanark County’s pioneers, a framework may be found in a list of some of the County’s first events.  The following brief listing of landmarks and outstanding events of the County’s first one hundred years of settlement is one of many similar selections which might be made from different viewpoints or differing bases of local emphasis.

The first settler in the county commonly has been said to have been William Merrick of Merrickville.  The arrival of an earlier and first settler, Roger Stevens, is recorded in this list of Lanark County events.  Official contemporary records of his coming as “the first who settled on the River Rideau”, places the start of the settlement of Lanark County within seven years of the first colonizing of the province by English-speaking people, made by Loyalists from the revolted British colonies.

THE PIONEERS:

 

First Family Settled – Roger Stevens from Vermont, an ensign in the King’s Rangers in the American Revolution; at S.E. corner of Montague township on the Rideau River, 1790, with wife and three children.  His occupied land extended into Marlborough township.  He joined with William and Stepehn Merrick in building a saw mill in Montague at Merrickville.  His death by drowning in 1793 followed an Upper Canada Order in Council authorizing a grant to him of the site of this mill and of the future village of Merrickville.

First Land Grants – In the 1790’s in the area of Montague and later N. Elmsley and N. Burgess townships.  These three townships until the 1840’s remained attached to the Leeds and Grenville (Johnstown ) District.

First Saw Mill and First Grist Mill – William Merrick’s at Merrickville in Montague township; saw mill 1793, grist mill 1803.  He came from New York State to Leeds County in 1791.

First Sponsored Migration  – from United Kingdom – About fifty Lowland Scottish families were granted farm sites in May, 1816, on the Scotch Line in Bathurst, Burgess and Elmsley townships near Perth, when a similar number of grants were made nearby to married and single demobilized British Soldiers of various nationalities.

First Large Scale Settlement  – The seven years 1816 to 1822, when seven thousand persons, mainly from Scotland and Ireland, aided by army settlement supervision and supplies, began the great task of clearing land and establishing farms and villages throughout most of the county’s present area.

First Group Migration From Scottish Highlands – About fifty families from Perthshire in 1818 settled in Beckwith township near Carleton Place; they came inland by the Ottawa River route.

First Settlement of North Lanark – Assisted emigrations of 1820 and 1821 from Lanarkshire added some 2,500 persons to the county’s population, mainly in Dalhousie, Lanark and Ramsay townships.

First Group Migration from Southern Ireland – About seventy-five families, mainly from County Cork, were brought to the site of Almonte in 1823 and settled in Ramsay and neighbouring townships.

First Resident Clergymen  – Officially recognized, Rev. William Bell, Presbyterian, 1817; Rev. Michael Harris, Anglican, 1819; both at Perth.

 

POLITICAL RIGHTS:

 

First Visit By Governor-in-Chief of Canada – by Charles Lennox, 4th Duke of Richmond in 1819.

First Member of Parliament – In 1820, William Morris (b.1786 d.1858), Scottish merchant at Perth, defeated Benjamin Delisle; became president of Executive Council of Canada, 1846.

First Steps towards Local Government –  Establishment of the judicial District of Bathurst in 1822, with centre at Perth, to serve some local executive and judicial needs of an area comprising most of the present Lanark, Carleton and Renfrew counties.

First Naming as County of Lanark – In 1824, when the ten northerly townships of the present Lanark County (excluding Pakenham) and the then unsurveyed present Renfrew County became an electoral district named County of Lanark.

KNOWLEDGE AND VIOLENCE:

 

First Newspaper – The Independent Examiner, Perth, 1828, edited by John Stewart, school teacher, succeeded in 1832 by the Constitution and in 1834 by the present Perth Courier.

First Public Libraries – Dalhousie Public Library, near Watson’s Corners, 1828 (still in existence); and the Ramsay and Lanark Circulating Library near Clayton, 1829.

First (and only) Extensive Riots – The ‘Ballygiblin Riots’ Carleton Place and Almonte, 1824.

First Execution for Murder – Thomas Easby, of Drummond township, 1829; found to have killed his wife and four children, publicly hanged at Perth after rejection of defence of insanity.

First Recorded Pistol Duels – James Boulton and Thomas Radenhurst, Perth barristers, June, 1830; Colonel Alexander McMillan and Dr. Alexander Thom, both of Perth, the latter wounded, January, 1883; John Wilson and Robert Lyon, law students at Perth, the latter killed, June, 1883.

 

 

 

 

 

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Riverside Park Site of Carleton Place Graveyard

20-Foot Square Unmarked Grave in Riverside Park

The Carleton Place Canadian, 27 December, 1956

By Howard M. Brown

 

In Riverside Park there lies a little-known site which is of some interest in the town’s history.  It is found at the extreme end of the town’s park, near Lake Avenue and close to the Mississippi River.  This was a burial ground, where members of one of the first families of settlers of the town were laid in a now unmarked graveyard.

Discovery of this site some ten years ago was reported at a Parks Commission meeting, at which the suggestion was made that the area should be marked as a historical site by erection of a cairn.  Pending the receipt of further particulars no action was taken.  The Canadian subsequently found from the late Alex John Duff, Beckwith farmer, that he recalled this burial ground in his youth in the 1880s as being at that time a little cemetery about 15 or 20 feet square, a gravestone in which bore the name Catin Willis. 

With the Morphys and the Moores, the Willises long were among the widely known earliest owners of farm land coming within the present boundaries of the town.  It is well recorded that the whole central section of the present town was first located to the Morphy and the Moore families in 1819 as Crown grants of farm land; the part extending north of Lake Avenue to four of the Morphys, and three hundred acres at the south side of Lake Avenue to three of the Moores.  William Moore is said to have aided in the founding of the town by opening its first blacksmith shop in 1820, the first year of settlement as a community.  About the same time the first marriages here were those of Sarah, daughter of George Willis, to William Morphy, and Mary, daughter of Thomas Willis, to John Morphy.  Well known descendants of these families continue to live in the town and district.

On a farm which reached the western end of Riverside Park George Willis, born about 1778, settled and raised his family.  Other Willises coming from Ireland and settling near Morphy’s  Falls between 1819 and 1821 were Henry, William, Thomas and Catin Willis.  When the present Carleton Place Town Hall was built, the central building on its site, said to be the second dwelling built in the town, was the home of Mrs. William Morphy,  daughter of George Willis, where she had lived to 1888 and the age of 85, a widow for over fifty years.  The Bathurst Courier at Perth, reporting her husband’s death in August, 1837, said in part:

“Fatal Accident.  On Friday afternoon last, William Morphy of Carleton Place, whilst on his way home from this place on horseback, in company with several others, met with an accident from the effect of which he died on Sunday morning last, under the following circumstances.  Between this and Joseph Sharp’s tavern the deceased and another of the party were trying the speed of their horses when, on approaching Sharp’s house at a very rough part of the road, his horse fell and threw him off, by which he was placed under the animal.  Severe wounds causing a contusion of the brain led to his death…….The deceased was a native of Ireland, and has left a wife and family to deplore his sudden death.”

Grandchildren of William Morphy and his wife Sarah Willis included William, Duncan and Robert McDiarmid, prominent Carleton Place merchants, sons of James McDiarmid, Carleton Place merchant, and his wife Jane Morphy.

George Willis Jr. (1820-1892) succeeded his father on the farm at the end of Lake Avenue (Conc. 11, lot 12) and there brought up a family long known in Carleton Place, including Richard, drowned while duck hunting in November 1893, and George E. Willis, photographer, musician and bandmaster, who died in Vancouver in 1940 at age 96 while living with his son Stephen T. Willis of Ottawa business college fame; William and John H. of Carleton Place, and daughters including Jane, wife of James Morphy Jr. the son of “King James” of the pioneer Morphy family.

The George Willis place on the river side during one period was the annual scene of colourful sights and stirring sounds on the 12th of July.  It was a marshalling ground and headquarters for the great Orange parade, with the Willis boys of the third generation prominent among the performers in the bands.  The names of George Willis, Senior and Junior, appear with sixty others on the roll of the Carleton Place Loyal Village Guards which mustered in 1837 and 1838 at the time of the Upper Canada Rebellion and “Patriot War,” and again with that of Catin Willis in the St. James Church monster petition of November 1846 for maintaining tenure of the Church’s clergy reserve land in Ramsay against claims of Hugh Bolton and others.

Catin Willis, born in Ireland in 1795, settled as a young man in Ramsay on the present northern outskirts of Carleton Place (con. 8, lot 2w) when that township was opened for settlement in 1821.  He died there in 1869.  His name appears as contributor to the Carleton Place fund for providing and operating a curfew bell in 1836.  The Church Wardens of St. James Church here in 1845 were Catin Willis and James Rosamond, founder of the Rosamond textile manufacturing firm.

William, another of the first Willises here, took up land in the 4th concession of Beckwith (lot 18W) in 1820, securing his location in the usual way through the district settlement office and performing the settlement duties required for obtaining a patent to his land, which lay east of Franktown.  Franktown, then usually referred to as The King’s Store at Beckwith, and later named possibly for its sponsor, Colonel Francis Cockburn, had already been approved for surveying into town lots, and had the taverns of Patrick Nowlan and Thomas Wickham for the accommodation of travellers, in addition to the government supply depot for the Beckwith settlers.

George Ramsay, Ninth Earl of Dalhousie and Governor General of British North America, made the Nowlan Inn his stopping place, accompanied by Colonel Cockburn, during a one day visit in 1820 in the course of a tour of inspection of the Perth, Beckwith and Richmond settlements.

Henry Willis landed from Ireland in the early summer of 1819 with his young family on the sailing ship Eolus, whose passengers included the families of Beckwith settlers Thomas Pierce, James Wall and William Jones.  He first settled on the 2nd concession of Beckwith (lot 13W) near Franktown, and later moved to Carleton Place where he is found as a contributor to the 1836 curfew bell fund and on the roll of the Loyal Village Guards of 1838.

Henry was an unsuccessful 1838 petitioner with Captain Duncan Fisher for preferential purchase from the Crown of a farm lot extending near Indians Landing (con. 11, lot 11), adjoining the farms of George Willis and Captain Fisher.  Those providing certificates of facts in support of this petition were Catin Willis, John Moore, William Willis, Greenwall Dixon, and Edward J. Boswell, Anglican “Missionary at Carleton Place.”

Thomas Willis is shown by Beldon’s Lanark County Atlas of 1880 to have been an inhabitant of the new village of Morphy’s Falls in its first year, and to have given his daughter in marriage then to John Morphy.  John (b.1794, d.1860), another of the family of six sons and two daughters of Edmond Morphy, built his home for his bride at the east end of Mill Street on the present Bates & Innes lands.  It stood there for over fifty years after his death, and last served as the watchman’s house of the Bates & Innes mill.  The large family of John Morphy and his wife Mary Willis, raised in that pioneer home, included Abraham Morphy of Ramsay, near Carleton Place; and Elizabeth, Mrs. Richard Dulmage of Ramsay, who was born in 1821 as the first child born to the first settlers in Morphy’s Falls.

It is possible that further consideration will be given to providing the added note of interest and distinction to the town, and to its popular Riverside Park, which would be furnished by a cairn and tablet at the Park denoting some of the ancient origins of the town.

Eagles And Vultures Once Flew Around Mississippi Lake by Howard Brown, from the Carleton Place Canadian, December 22, 1955

“The Canadian is fortunate in receiving a number of articles from Howard Brown of Ottawa concerning early hunting and fishing stories around Carleton Place.  The series includes one on the first game club, deer hunting, bird protection, Mississippi fishing, the beaver, wildcat and lynx, introduction of pickerel to the Mississippi.  The first article follows:

 Hunting and Fishing Stories of our Grandfathers

Lanark and Renfrew counties, well supplied with woods, lakes and marshes, have a record as a favourite fishing and hunting district which antedates their first English speaking settlement.  Referring to the immediate neighbourhood of Carleton Place, William Bell, pioneer Lanark County pastor and an observant man if not an experienced fisher or hunter, wrote soon after his 1817 arrival at Perth:

“The Mississippi Lake, its length about 12 miles and its breadth varying from four miles to half a mile, affords an abundance of fish for the settlers in the neighbourhood, who kill them with spears in great numbers in the spring when ascending the river to spawn.  Some of the islands in the lake are still inhabited by Indians, whose hunting ground is on the north side and who are far from being pleased with the encroachments our settlers are making on their territories.

The animals most troublesome to the farmers are squirrels, brown and grey, equally destructive to crops both in fields and gardens.  They do most mischief in the spring by taking the seed up out of the ground.  I have seen a field of Indian corn entirely ruined by them so that it was necessary to plant it a second and even a third time.  The number killed by some farmers in a year almost exceeds belief.  There is another species called the black squirrel but it seems scarce, being seldom taken.

Of birds there are many kinds.  The principal are eagles, vultures, owls, night hawks, fish hawks, cranes, geese, wild ducks, partridges, snow birds, teal, wild pigeons, blackbirds, thrushes, larks and various other kinds.  The wood pigeons pass to the northward in the spring and return in the fall in immense numbers.  Great numbers of them are taken in nets, but they are more frequently shot, and are generally found to be fat and good eating.  When they happen to alight upon a field they scarcely leave a grain, if not disturbed.”

The story of these famous clouds of passenger pigeons, which usually frequented wooded regions rather than farmers’ fields and which, at 40 cents a pair, were still sold on the Ottawa market in the 1870’s, is well known.  After wanton whole sale killing they were exterminated from the continent to the last bird.  Some larger fur bearing animals, such as the marten and fisher, the lynx and the otter, soon retreated in these counties, like the Indians themselves, before the axe and the plough.

 First Game Protective Club:

 Forty years after the white man had settled in the local scene to dispossess the North American Indian, the second generation in this area, had begun to lessen the seeming abundance of some useful wild animals and birds to a point at which a local Game Protective Club was undertaking enforcement of existing legislation (19-20 Vic. C, 94) for their preservation.  An 1859 Carleton Place announcement gave notice that a sportsmen’s club, composed of persons resident in this and adjoining townships and prepared to prosecute and punish breaches of the game laws “exists in this village as some unseasonable slaughters of game may yet learn to their cost.  The Club has thought proper to offer a reward of $5 to be paid by the Treasurer of the club to any person giving such information as shall ensure the conviction of offenders.  The company have also employed a Lawyer to conduct their business and attend to the prosecution of all parties complained of without respect of persons.”

 The seasons of prohibited hunting still left a six months open deer and moose season from August to January, six months of grouse or partridge hunting from September to February, and gave no protection for waterfowl beyond an eleven week closed season from mid-April to the end of July for “Wild Swan, Goose, Duck of kinds known as Mallard, Grey Duck, Black Duck and all kinds of Teal.”

 An 1862 visitor observed: “There are few villages in the interior, off the main streams the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa, that can rival Carleton Place in scenery and we know of few places where a day or two’s fun can be better appreciated than up on the Mississippi Lake.  In fact fishing and hunting has become almost an institution among the inhabitants and the fame of the Mississippi Pike and Ducks and we may add Deers or Dears, has reached distant sections of the Front.”

 The Game Protective Club, interested chiefly in increasing the deer population, became the Lanark and Renfrew Game Protection Society, as formally constituted at a March 1861 meeting of district deer hunters at Pakenham, home town of the then retired Andrew Dickson, prominent as a deer hunter as well as in Eastern Upper Canada public affairs. 

Cases of convictions for winter killing of deer in the closed season were cited at the Society’s meetings.  “A Law Abiding Hunter” wrote to the deer-hunting editor of the Carleton Place Herald at the end of the 1861-62 season:

 “It is estimated that upwards of 700 deers were butchered on the crust last winter and spring in the Counties of Lanark and Renfrew, and that about 150 deer have been killed in these counties in the past year during the time allowed by law.  In settlements where liquor can be procured the most of the venison that the Indians kill is sold to procure whisky.  It is stated that one Indian, who stopped near Arnprior, killed no less than 90 deers on the crust last winter and spring – a crime.”

Early court records of deer hunting in the two counties were not limited to cases for deterring hunting out of season.  Others concerned appropriation of hounds or of the hunter’s quarry.  In an 1865 trial at Almonte dealing with an October deer hunt at White Lake, magistrates James Rosamond and John Menzies, after hearing many witnesses, dismissed a charge based on the information and complaint of a Pakenham resident to the effect that James Poole, W. Morphy and James Cram of Carleton Place “did with force of arms take and carry away one deer the property of John McManagle.”  The implication of the decision seemed to be that hunters stationed at a lakeshore in shooting and attempting to keep possession of deer which had been run out by another hunting party did so at their peril.

Remarkably large packs of dogs were maintained by some deer hunters.  Andrew Dickson, ex-sheriff of the United Counties and onetime warden of the Provincial penitentiary at Kingston, was once reported to be the owner of over thirty.  In the same period large numbers were kept by James Poole of Carleton Place.  A granddaughter’s account of Andrew Dickson’s last farewell to hunting and to his dogs is given in Senator Andrew Haydon’s Pioneer Sketches in the District of Bathurst.

     The scene is in 1868 at the Dickson home in Pakenham :

“The last time I saw my grandfather was just a week before he died.  The dogs had broken out of their kennels and rushed into the house, Sport, the favourite, on the bed, the place of honor, earned by years of devotion, and the other dogs with noses resting on the quilt, and on the gray old plaid they had so often followed.  The tears ran down his face, but he beckoned to me.  I took the whistle, which I could hardly use for crying, I led the way to the kennel, but Sport would not come.”

     In the early 1880’s the district game supply and the hunting restrictions both continued to be generous to the hunter.  A pair of hunters are reported returning to Carleton Place from a five week deer hunt in which they shot forty deer, followed by an advertisement “Good Venison for Sale,”  James Presley opposite the Methodist Church, Carleton Place.  Moose in the Upper Ottawa were meeting a similar onslaught which they could less readily withstand.  A Carleton Place “Protect the Moose” editorial May 1887 said:

     “Steps are being taken to have the Governments enforce more stringently the laws for the protection of this noble game.  As an instance of the terrible slaughter of moose deer that has gone on in the Upper Ottawa this season, it is mentioned that Montreal man who hunted on the Mississippi River killed 27.  A Pembroke man killed 40.  It is computed that all the carcasses would weight 53,600 pounds.  The Montreal man killed his moose during the legal season, but his companion killed during month of March and is reported to be killing yet.”

     Restrictions following 1887 included in the case of deer a season limit of 3 to 5 per person depending on the size of the hunting party with a season opening November 15th.