In Ernesttown, not far from the present railway station, and a few lots west of what has long been known as Links Mills, stands one of the old and somewhat historic churches of this county, long known as "St. Peters Lutheran Church." The frame and walls of the former building still remain but the other parts of it have been so remodelled and modernized that it now bears little resemblance to its original self. The Lutherans were among the earliest established of the religious bodies in this county, the membership being largely among those of Dutch origin. Their first minister, or missionary, in this county, the Rev. John G. Wigant, or Weant as his name was sometimes spelled, was among the earliest of the Christian ministers here. Dr. Canniff in his history thus refers to him: "The second Lutheran clergyman to preach upon the Bay was the Rev. Mr. Weant. He lived a short distance below Bath, and went every four weeks to preach at Smith's Bay (in Marysburgh, where there was a large German settlement) and, in the meantime, preached to the Lutherans of Ernesttown, where he built a log church, the first there." Just where that log church was located is not mentioned, nor have we now any means of knowing.
Mr. John Collins Clark in his very interesting paper in regard to the first settlers on the front of Ernesttown makes reference to him, as the owner, at one time, of a lot a little east of Millhaven, which was afterwards owned by Abraham Amey, but he does not afterwards make reference to him. Just when he came is not easy to determine. He went to Dundas county in 1808. From the record of the Ebenezer Lutheran church at Big Creek in Fredericksburgh, he was here as early as May 1794, but whether earlier than that, or how much earlier is not now known. Very likely he was preaching quite as early as that in the neighborhood where St. Peter's was afterwards built. Whether the first log church already referred to was located there we do not know, but it seems probable that it was. There do not appear to be any records now in existence of his baptisms and marriages, or even of the names of the members, in that part of Ernesttown. There are records of four marriage ceremonies he attended to in the vicinity of Big Creek in 1796 and 1797 - of Fralichs, Fretts's, Gordaniers and Huffmans; there are also old marriage certificates now in existence in Prince Edward county of some he celebrated in Adolphustown. We hope that some of the old Ernesttown records may yet turn up.
ST. PETERS, NOW UNION CHURCH
Reference has been before made in The Beaver to the old deed of this church now in the possession of Mr. William Hogle, one of the present trustees. That deed was not dated until February 9th, 1819, but, like several others of those early times it is not at all probable that the deed was executed until years after the church was in use. Jonas Amey then granted the land to the Trustees of the Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian denominations, and representatives of each were named. The Lutherans there at that time were, we understand, largely in majority and four of them were trustees; - Jacob Stover, Joseph Amey, Lodowick Hartman and Joseph Amey [sic]. The Methodists were represented by Peter Davy, and the Presbyterians by Isaac Fraser.
The Lutheran members in the locality have all dwindled away; the Methodists and Presbyterians yet remain and the church is now jointly used by both, and is known as Union church. We understand it has always been regularly used as a place of worship from its first establishment. The descendants of all the early trustees are still living in that locality.
THE OLD BURYING GROUND
Surrounding the church is one of the oldest burying grounds in that part of the township and there the first pioneer settlers in the locality nearly all have their last resting place. Of many of the earlier ones there is not now any record. They were buried years before headstones came much into use. Many of the names are not now obtainable.
During a recent visit to that historic old "Gods Acre" we noted the inscriptions on a number of the graves of former well-known and leading residents.
Apparently one of the oldest stones in the ground is one of grey slate in memory of John Ham, died July 1st, 1832, aged 78 years. He was the head of one of the very large and well-known families in this county, and, according to the old government records, he was a soldier in the British ranks during the time of the American revolution. Doubtless he came to this county with the early U.E. Loyalists and settled on a fine farm, not far west of the church, which was the original home of the large Ham family. It is now occupied by his grandson, Mr. Norman Hamm. His sons were active and influential men in their day, but all of them are gone now. The descendants of John Hamm must now number some hundreds.
Besides that is another grey stone in memory of Elizabeth, wife of Henry Ham, died Aug. 27th, 1831, aged 37 years. She was a daughter of the Rev. Robert Perry, and a member of a large and well known family, a few of whom are still living. The late Ebenezer Ham, of Big Creek, was one of her children.
In another part of the ground is a stone in memory of Benjamin Hamm, who lived and died at the old homestead. His death occurred November 9th, 1867, aged 65 years and 7 months. He was an able and influential man in his day and took a prominent part in political affairs. Over sixty years ago he was the candidate of the old Reform party in opposition to John Solomon Cartwright, but was defeated. He took an active interest in the first general Dominion election, in 1867, which occurred a few months before his death.
Near the church there are headstones to the memory of Captain Peter Daly who died February 11th, 1832, aged 68 years, and his wife, Mary Hartman, who died January 15th, 1839, aged 73 years. They lived and died a short distance south of where the railway now runs, and were the heads of a large and influential family, now scattered in this and adjoining counties. James Daly, Esq., Police magistrate here, is a grandson. Captain Daly was a soldier in Col. Jessup's corps during the war of the American Revolution, a noted corps during that war. He came to Upper Canada with the U.E. Loyalists and was given tracts of land for himself and his children by the British government. He was an active officer in the Canadian militia in after years. He was one of the original trustees of the old church, representing the Methodist body.
Two of the wives of the Booth family are among those to whom stones have been erected to their memory. They were Margaret, wife of the late Joshua Booth, died July 5th, 1847, aged 80 years. They lived and died on a farm just west of the church and Mr. Booth was the owner of one of the several mills near by. He was a son of the original Joshua Booth, who was a man of much influence and prominence in the county, and who lived and died on the front of Ernesttown. She was a daughter of Captain Peter Daly, we believe.
The other was Catharine Dorland, wife of Benjamin Booth. She was a grand-daughter of Philip Dorland, of Adolphustown, the first elected member of the first Upper Canada Parliament for Addington. She died in April, 1838, aged 50 years. Among her children were Philip Booth, Joshua, John K., Dr. Donald B., Mrs. P. Timmerman, all at one time prominent and respected citizens of Mill Creek, now Odessa, and of Mrs. Scouton, of Ernesttown. The sole survivor of that once large and influential family is John K. Booth, Esq., well known to many readers of the Beaver.
FRASERS AND ASSELSTINES
The Frasers were, for years, a leading family in that locality. The head of that family was Daniel Fraser, who lived and died on lot 29 in the first concession of Ernesttown. He was one of the early Justices of the Peace of the county, and a member of the earliest of the Courts of Request. There is yet in existence the record of the proceedings of that court, extending back nearly 120 years. There was a large family, and the descendants are now very numerous and well known.
Isaac Fraser, J.P., and for years the County Registrar for Lennox and Addington - the first for the County separated from Kingston and Frontenac, we believe. He was a man of much intelligence, and prominence in both political and business matters. In 1828 he was one of the Conservative candidates for the representation of Lennox and Addington in the general election that year, and received an influential vote, but the old-time Reformers, Marshall Spring Bidwell and Peter Perry were elected. There was then but one polling place for the entire county - at John Fralick's tavern, near where Mr. B.B. VanSlyck now resides, and near the Brick church at Morven on the Kingston road. The was said, at one time, to have been the best read man in the county. The opinion of "Squire Fraser" on matters of law was long considered a very high authority. He was a mill owner on Mill Creek until after his appointment as registrar, when he moved to Mill Haven, where the office was established until the time of his death. His wife was a Miss Nancy Storring, whose father resided on the front east of Mill Have. There is a monument erected to their memory with the following inscription: "Isaac Fraser, died July 2, 1858, aged 78 years, 9 months, 13 days. Nancy, wife of the late Isaac Fraser, died April 1863, aged 82 years."
Near by stands a monument to the memory of Michael Asselstine, died Nov. 3 1870, aged 80 years, and Catherine Fraser, his wife, died May 25, 1885, aged 82 years. She was a daughter of Isaac Fraser. Squire Michael Asselstine was one of the most highly respected and influential men in his locality for many years - a good type of the fine old gentlemen of a former generation, as the writer now remembers him. He was for years the owner of Asselstine's woolen factory, which at one time was probably the most important of its kind in the whole country, and by which the whole neighborhood was named. In the Kingston Gazette of 1828 appears an advertisement of its business then known as the "Ernesttown Cloth Factory," where carding, spinning, weaving and fulling were all done. It was then conducted by Isaac Fraser, David B. Brown and Enoch Drake. Mr. Fraser, we believe, sold out to Michael Asselstine, and the property has continued in the hands of some member of the family ever since. though the mills have now lost their local importance.
Space would fail to go on with any such extended notice of a number of other early residents who found there their last resting place. The oldest of them all at the time of his death was Dennis Lucas, who died in April 1877, aged 96 years, 2 months and 26 days. He was one of the early settlers living near by, and the head of what is now a very numerous family.
THE AMEY FAMILY
A number of members of the Amey family lie buried in the historic old ground. The heads of that now very large and influential family, both in this and adjoining counties were Nicholas Amey and John Jones Amey. They were both U.E. Loyalists and fought for the old flag during the war of the American Revolution. They came to Upper Canada with the earliest U.E.L. refugees, and settled in Ernesttown. John Jones was in the ranks under the unfortunate Gen. Burgoyne, whose surrender was one of the crowning acts of the war, so far as the British cause was concerned. He was on the government pension list in 1786, after he had settled in Ernesttown.
Nicholas Amey, from whom the present Ernesttown families appear to have descended, was a soldier in the Loyal King's Rangers during that terrible war. His name was on the government Land Board of Mecklenburg of 1790, and on the Provision List of 1786. He settled on a farm on the Bay of Quinte shore, a little east of Mil Have. John Collins Clarke, in 1844, thus wrote of him: "Mr. Nicholas Amey had the next farm above (Vent's). He and his wife have been dead many years. His wife was a Stover; they had a large family. Their son John married a Miss Asselstine. Abraham married Miss Charity Sager. David married a daughter of Jeremiah Snider. Joseph has been married four times, first to Sarah Smith, a daughter of Parker Smith; second, Phoebe McCombs; third, Catharine Baker, daughter of Frederick Baker; fourth, to Catherine Baker [sic], sister of the third. He lives on the old farm. Peter married Mary Baker, and Nicholas married Mary, daughter of Abraham Snider. One of the daughters married John Snider sr., and another John Asselstine.
Next in point of longevity was Peter Amey, died Dec 16 1878, aged 91 years, 4 months, 26 days. Mary Baker, his wife, was in her 72d year when she died in January 1862. They lived near where the Ernesttown station is now located, and the property has been in the hands of the family from the first settlement of the country. Jesse Amey, for years reeve of the township, and now county commissioner, is a descendant. The Ameys are among the largest and best known families of that locality. The writer well remembers meeting one of the old members, the late Jonas Amey, away back in the sixties, and he narrated some of their experiences as pioneers in what was then all but unbroken wilderness. The second year they all had the ague at one time. In their "shaking day", they were not able to wait on each other. They would all lie down on the floor of their one-roomed log house, putting a dish of water so all could reach it and do for themselves as best they could. Nearly every other family had a similar experience at that time. Ague was one of the dreaded scourges of the early settlers. The Ameys are nearly all buried there.
The Hogles were also an early and well-known family, and some of three generations lie buried in that ground. James Hogle, the elder, with his wife, Deborah Cadman, were among the earliest settlers. It is said that he furnished the timber for the church. His son James also lied buried there, with his wife. Their son, William Hogle, now a gray-haired man, is one of the trustees of the church and of the grounds. The Hogles are a large and well-known U.E.L family.
Of the other well-known early families in that locality, a part of the members of whom lie buried there, are the McGillivrays, Hartmans, Sniders, Hagermans and Babcocks. They all did well their share in clearing away the wilderness and help build up the beautiful farming country now enjoyed by their successors. Peace and honor to their memories.
David Aylsworth and his wife, Nancy Fraser, a daughter of Squire Isaac Fraser, were not among the settlers. They located in that locality many years ago, and became prominent and respected residents. They both lie buried there, with several of their children, and their sons and daughters are now occupying their positions. One of their sons is B.E. Aylsworth, M.P.P. for Lennox county, who was born and reared in that county.