Some Interesting Facts and Items from a Newspaper of 1828
Mr. Thomas W. Casey has in his possession several years' files of old newspapers of nearly seventy years ago that belonged to his grandfather, William Casey, one of the first U.E.L. pioneers of Adolphustown. Among them are the Kingston Gazette of 1828, published by Stephen Miles; the first volume of the Christian Guardian, beginning with 1829, edited by Rev. Egerton Ryerson, then a young man; a volume of the Boston Zion's Herald and also one of the New York Christian Advocate, of still earlier dates.
The Kingston Gazette was one of the first newspapers printed in Upper Canada. The first one published was the "Upper Canada Gazette" first published in April 1793 at Newark, now Niagara, which was at that time the seat of government of this Province. It was published a few years and then discontinued, but never had much of a circulation as there were no facilities for regularly mailing papers at that time.
In 1807, the "Upper Canada Guardian' was established at Toronto, and published by Joseph Wilcox, who had a very chequered career. He at one time was a member of The Upper Canada parliament, and took a prominent part in helping defend Canada against American invasion during the war of 1812, but later on he became dissatisfied with the treatment he received and joined the American army. He was killed in the famous battle at fort Erie in 1814. He gave up his paper at the commencement of the war of 1812.
Mr. Miles was first connected with the publication of a paper in Kingston in 1810. on the 25th of September. It was called the "Kingston Gazette; and from 1812 to 1816 it was the only newspaper published in Upper Canada, the two already referred to having ceased publication before that time. He was then a young man of but twenty-one years, and had just completed his apprenticeship as a printer in Montreal. A year or two later he became the publisher. It ceased publication after a time and was not revived again until 1828. Meantime he had been connected with the office of the Kingston Chronicle, the second paper established in Kingston, which was first published in 1819. The Gazette was published the last time about three years. Mr. Miles then moved to Prescott, where he established the first paper printed in that town. Later on he became an itinerant Methodist preacher and travelled as such for years. He was then superannuated and spent his last days among his relatives, the Shiertliffs, of Ernesttown. He is still well remembered by many of the readers of THE BEAVER.
The Kingston Gazette of 1828 was an eight paged sheet, of three broad columns to the page, and contained less than one half the reading matter THE BEAVER now contains. It was very neatly and carefully printed, a typographical error being seldom seen. The subscription price was $3 a year, in advance, or $3.50 if not paid within six months. The postage was then 80 cents a year, which was charged extra. The postage had to be paid quarterly in advance by the publisher.
Early News Items
Many of the news items of a newspaper of 1828 have now become matters of history to us. Here are a few of them between June and September of that year that refer particularly to this county. Some others of a later date will be referred to at a future time. Among the death notices are the following:
"At Bath, on Thursday, 7th inst. (august) George Macaulay, Esq., Barrister at low, deeply lamented by all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance. On Sunday Mr. Macaulay's remains were interred with Masonic honors, under the direction of Addington Lodge No. 7, (of which he was W. Master) assisted by St. John's Lodge No. 5 and Concord Lodge from Kingston."
Mr. Macaulay was one of the leading lawyers of Upper Canada in his day, and the father of the late Chief Justice Macaulay, of Toronto, and of the Rev. W. Macaulay, the first Church of England Rector of Picton. Bath at that time was the home of several leading lawyers, including the Bidwells. It had also one of the largest Masonic lodges in Upper Canada.
The death announcement just next the above was as follows: "At Green Point, on Saturday last (August 9th) Mrs. Clowes, wife of Mr. Samuel Clowes, Civil Engineer, aged 63 years." Mr. Clowes here, referred to was chief engineer on the construction of the Rideau Canal, which, was just then being commenced. He purchased a large tract of land at the point of Prince Edward County, nearly opposite Deseronto, and lived where the ferry now lands on that side of the Bay. He was the father of the late Mrs. Paul C. Peterson, who also lived and died there.
The next week's issue contains this: - "In Camden, on Wednesday morning last, (Aug 18th 1828) John Carscallen, Esq., aged 75. His death, we are informed, was hastened by a fall which he got from a wagon a few days previous."
Mr. Carscallen was one of the well known pioneers of Camden Township, several of whose descendants still live in the township. He was also a relative of the Carscallens of Fredericksburgh and Napanee.
Some Church Matters
The Gazette gave very prominent attention to religious matters, - churches, missionary societies and the like. One of the first curious items was the announcement on July 10th, 1828, that Saint George's Church, Kingston, had been consecrated on the previous Sunday by the Lord Bishop of Quebec, and that it was the first service of the kind that had ever taken place in Upper Canada. There was no church of England Bishop in Upper Canada at that time, nor was there any for some years after, till the appointment of Bishop Strachan. There had been a number of Anglican churches erected and used before that time, including that at Bath, which was then over 30 years in use, but it seems none of them had been regularly consecrated. On the 1st of Aug. there is a clipping from the Niagara Gleaner stating that the same Bishop had been in the Niagara Peninsula and had consecrated the church at Chippawa (near the Falls) and had arranged to also consecrate churches at Woodhouse (near Long Point), at Stamford and at the town of Niagara. he also held confirmation services at a number of places in that section of country. These items give some important data to church history in this province.
A pretty full account is also given, later on, of a Methodist conference held in October of that year at Switzer's Chapel. Of this we will refer more at length at a future time, as it marks a very important period in the history of the Methodist church in Canada, being the first conference held in this country after the Methodists here became officially separated from those of the United States. There are also a number of announcements regarding the Missionary Societies of the different churches, and interesting in formation of the progress of the Methodist mission among the Indians, the work then being located at Grape Island (now Huff's Island) in Prince Edward County. The Rev. William Case, so well known in Canadian Methodist history, was then a young man and had charge of that mission. This work, with the Indian band with which it was connected, was afterwards transferred to Rice Lake, where it is still carried on.
An Old time Election
In 1828 a general election took place in this province and it was a memorable one in Lennox and Addington. There was but one polling place then in each county and the voting generally lasted for an entire week, or until some of the candidates saw fit to retire. There was open voting then, and no law against bribery and treating. The state of things under these circumstances may well be imagined. Lennox and Addington was then but one electoral district but two members were elected. The election was held at John Fralick's tavern, on the boundary of Fredericksburgh and Ernesttown, on the Kingston Road. That is where Mr. B.B. Vanslyck now lives, and the polling place was a temporary booth at the corner where the Morven Brick church now stands. Allan Macpherson, of Napanee, was the returning officer. John Gordanier then kept a tavern on the second lot east of the polling place where Mr. M.M. Vanluven now lives. Both parties then kept "open houses" during the entire time, and their friends and supporters were welcome to all they might eat and drink, free of cost. Fralick's was the head-quarters for the reformers and Gordanier's for the tories - that was before the days of "Liberals" and "Liberal Conservatives." The Reform candidates were Marshal S. Bidwell and Peter Perry; they were the members of the late parliament, from 1824 to 1828. The Tory candidates were Isaac Fraser, of Ernesttown, and Samuel Casey, of Adolphustown. The result was as follows: Perry, 334; Bidwell, 316; Fraser, 216; Casey, 207.
Although Fraser and Casey were then defeated they were both elected at other times and represented this county in parliament. That election and the previous one, in 1821 resulted in favor of the old Reform party and in a pretty crushing defeat of the "Family Compact." This county was then a leading strong hold for the Reformers.
Bidwell was elected Speaker of the House for that Parliament and was one of the most influential politicians in Canada. He was first a candidate in 1823 and was then defeated by Mr. George Ham, of Fredericksburgh, an uncle of Mr. George Ham, of South Fredericksburgh, and of the late Richard Ham, of Hamburgh, and the late Benjamin Ham of Ernesttown. George Ham afterwards moved west, to Cobourg or Whitby, where he lived and died. In the general election of 1824 Bidwell was first elected and continued to hold his seat for three elections, with Peter Perry his associate. They were defeated by John Solomon Cartwright, of Kingston, and George H. Detlor, of Napanee in the general election of 1836 Mr. Bidwell left Canada soon after the memorable McKenzie rebellion of 1837 and never returned, though there is no evidence that he was privy to that rebellion. He lived and died in New York. Peter Perry moved to Whitby, where he became a prominent business man, and he was afterwards elected for Ontario county. He died at Whitby years ago. The Perrys now of Fredericksburgh and Ernesttown are members of the same family.
Here are the other members elected for this section of the country in that same election: Kingston, Donald Bethune; Toronto, John Beverly Robinson, afterwards Chief Justice; Frontenac, Messrs. Thompson and Dalton; Prince Edward, Wilson and Peterson; Hasting, Samson and Lockwood. Dr. John Rolph, who afterwards became so prominent, was elected for Middlesex, and Dr. Baldwin, the father of the afterwards Hon. Robert Baldwin, represented Norfolk county.
A number of other news items of that long ago we purpose giving in future numbers of THE BEAVER.