The Beaver has already made mention of the fact that both flouring and carding mills were built and in operation at the Lake on the Mountain, now Glenora, earlier than at any other place in Prince Edward county, and that some of the old books and copies of papers regarding them are now in the writer's possession.
EARLY SAW MILLS
We are inclined to believe that a saw mill was erected and in operation in that county earlier than there. It was in Hallowell township, on what was then popularly known as the "High Shore". That was built and operated by David Conger, a U.E. Loyalist pioneer of the county, who came from the States to Upper Canada first in 1786, a couple of years after VanAlstine and his Adolphustown company. Mr. Conger selected and secured a lot of land on which there was a good water power. He returned to his New Jersey home and moved his family there the next year, bringing with him some of the necessary irons for the machinery of a saw mill, which he erected soon after. For many years, "Conger's Mill" was quite a business, and it was there that the first Methodist church was built in the county in 1809, and it is still standing and in use, and is now the oldest Methodist church standing and in use in Canada.
Just when the first saw mill was built at Glenora does not now appear to be known. One was standing there before the memory of any one now living. From the fact of its excellent water power and its being the centre of a then thickly populated locality, it is probable that one was established at a very early time. One was standing on the top of the hill and in actual operation as far back as we now have any record; it was burned not many years ago, and up to that time a good deal of sawing was done there for both Marysburgh and Adolphustown, as pine trees and large logs were quite abundant.
It may as well be remarked here that Captain Abraham Maybee had a saw mill at a very early time at the village of Adolphustown, some of the remains of which are still to be seen on the farm of David W. Allison, Esq., and not many rods east of the old U.E.L. burying ground. There was one also in operation for years in the second concession of that township, near where the U.E.L. cheese factory now stands.
It was owned by Samuel Casey, at one time, but whether he was the builder of it we do not know. There was another built and operated at an early time in the fifth concession of Adolphustown, on the farm of Robinson Casey, and probably built by his father, William Casey, who was quite an expert machinist and millwright. There were, probably, several others in the township of which the writer has not now any knowledge. In those early years, before the country was much cleared up mill streams were quite abundant and in localities where cattle cannot now find water to drink in the dry season. The number of saw mills, grist mills, tanneries and distilleries that were at one time in existence in the old townships of this county and Prince Edward now sees all but incredible.
FIRST CARDING MILLS
So far as we can now learn the first wool carding mill in existence at Glenora, or indeed any where in all this part of Canada, was built and operated by William Casey, of what was long known as Casey's Point in Adolphustown. He was the first settler on that point, and lived and died on the farm, but both he and his brother Willet, who lived and died on the front of Adolphustown, were ambitious business men and much inclined for machinery. Willet established the first iron foundry in Adolphustown and probably the first one in these counties and it was there that the first cast iron mould-board ploughs were made. The "Casey ploughs" were long in use with their powerful, straight one handle. The early farmers thought they were models of excellence and skill, but they would be considered very crude implements now.
Just when Willet Casey first brought in carding machinery from New York State and got it in operation at the Lake on the Mountain is not now clearly known. It must have been in the early years of this century. An old account book now lies before us of the carding operations of the seasons of 1813 and 1814, but it is not at all probable that it was his first book of that kind. The early settlers used to say that until after it was started all their wool had to be carded by hand and then spun and woven by hand, as it was for many years later on. The set of hand-cards, the spinning-wheel and the large lumbering hand-loom were then all among the household necessities of nearly every well-to-do family. Nearly everything of men and women's wear, underclothes and all, as well as the bedding, blankets, horse covering and carpets, when there were any used, were all made by hand and nearly all entirely manufactured in the home. Those were the busy days for the farmers' wives, daughters and "other wimmen folks" of the household.
The names in the old account book are largely those residing in Prince Edward county, though a number of them were residents of Adolphustown and Fredericksburgh. Among them are the names of Nicholas Peterson, of Adolphustown, early in June, 1813, Abraham Peterson, Aaron Carnahan, about that time Township Clerk of Adolphustown; Edward Barker; Sarah Huyck, John VanSkiver, Elias Clark, Barnard Cole, Jacob Kesler, and others who were residents of this county. Among the Prince Edward names are the Johnstons, Strikers, Cronks, Hazzards, Barkers, Ellsworths, Laziers, Osbornes, Solmes, Orsers, Ways, Congers, Wordens, Warrens, and scores of others now very familiar to most readers of The Beaver.
The quantities of wool carded then were very small generally ranging from 6 to 25 lbs for each person. The rate for carding charged was 7 1-2 pence (12 cents) per pound.
The machinery was moved from there to Casey's Point some time in the twenties, and was then driven by a large tread-wheel, driven by a pair of oxen. It was operated there for a few years. The machinery was afterwards sold and moved to Hastings county somewhere up the Moira river, above Belleville.
HUGH MACDONALD'S ADVERTISEMENT
Who built the next woolen mill there the writer has not been able to ascertain. It was not long without such a mill, however, and with additional machinery. It is known that when Hugh Macdonald, the father of the late Sir John, gave up his country store on the Hay Bay, adjoining the old Adolphustown church, he rented the "Stone Mills" as they were then called, but whether merely the woolen mills, or the flouring mill and all, we are not now very certain.
In the Hallowell Free Press, published at Picton, in the thirties appeared the following advertisement, which now reads with a good deal of interest in consequence of the family associations
The future Premier of the Dominion went there with his father and spent some of his boyhood days among the hills, rocks and glens of that place.
Pope in his Life of Sir John A. Macdonald, makes this brief reference to that period, "Business did not prosper with Mr. (Hugh) Macdonald (in Scotland), and in the year 1820 he resolved to try his fortune in the New World. Accordingly he embarked for Canada with his family, and, after a long voyage, long and irksome, even in those days, landed in Quebec, and journeyed overland to Kingston. Here he began life anew; but his ill fortune followed him over the sea, and, after trying Kingston for a few years, he determined upon going farther west, and moved up the Bay of Quinte to a place in the Township of Adolphustown, in the County of Lennox, called Hay Bay, where he opened a shop. Subsequently he migrated across Bay of Quinte to a locality then known as the Stone Mills in the County of Prince Edward where he started a grist mill; but he was unsuccessful at both places, and he finally returned to Kingston in the year 1836, where he fell into ill health and died on the 28th of September 1841."
Further on the writer states that young John Macdonald was about ten years of age when his father moved to the Stone Mills. That would make the date of moving there about 1825, as John Alexander Macdonald was born January 11, 1815. Mr. Frank Hill, now the oldest resident in that locality, a man of 80 years, well remembers when young John was a boy at the Mills with whom he used to play at times. John was four or five years older than himself.
MR. CLIFF A SUCCESSOR
The late George Cliff, so well-known in Napanee and Kingston for many years as a contractor and builder, also spent some of his early boyhood days there with his parents. In a brief sketch of his life, which appeared in The Beaver at the time of his death in September 1898, it is stated that his father emigrated from England in 1819, when young George was about five years of age. The family first settled in Montreal, then but a small town. The family moved to Upper Canada first in 1828, and his father made purchase of the Stone Mills, but his business partner failed to meet his share of the obligations and he resolved to give it up and return to Montreal. There the mother died of cholera in 1834. It seems, therefore, quite probable that the elder Cliff was the immediate predecessor of the elder Macdonald at the Mills.
Of the many changes there have been of proprietors since and of the many additions and improvements there have been in the business allusion has been made in these columns.