His Father Was Jailer Of the Then Important Midland District - George V. Dulmage Comes of an Old Irish Family – Early Canadian Methodism – Kingston as It Was Almost a Century Ago



   George V. Dulmage, now a resident of the village of Sydenham, an old man in his eighty-seventh year, and yet enjoying fairly good health and an excellent memory, is a native of Kingston and one of the few remaining members of a former generation, whose reminiscences of his early years are of much interest. His father, Elias Dulmage, was a well-known and quite a prominent citizen of Kingston, as early as 1810 or thereabouts. He was then the jailer of the Midland district – then a position of considerable importance and prominence, which he held for twenty years.


   “He held that position,” says the son, “fifteen years in the old jail and five years in the new,” which would indicate that the present is a t least the third jail in Kingston. Where the first jail stood and just what sort of a structure it was would make a subject for and interesting paper for the historical society.


   The Dulmages were one of the old Irish Palatine families, who came to Canada with the early U.E. loyalist pioneers and whose names were so prominently identified with the founders of Methodism, both in the United States and Upper Canada. John Embury, the first of the family in this province, was a brother-in-law of the celebrated Barbara Heck and her husband Paul and who appears to have emigrated with them from Court Mattrass, county of Limerick, Ireland, to New York when it was yet a small British colony, also in company with Philip Embury, the first Methodist local preacher and class leader in America. It was at the strong urgings and solicitations of Barbara Heck that Philip Embury, who had been a local preacher under John Wesley in Ireland, was induced to preach the first Methodist sermon in his own humble dwelling in New York and from the first class. The party of Palatines of which the Emburys, the Hecks and probably the Dulmages, contributed a part, left Ireland in 1760 and it was in 1766 that the first memorable meeting was held in New York, already referred to on Barrack street, New York. Out of that first small Methodist congregation soon grew one large enough to warrant the building of the old John street Methodist church, or chapel, the first in America.


   The Emburys and Hecks who had been farmers and country people in Ireland, soon resolved to leave New York, which was then becoming quite a town, and settle on farms up the Hudson river, near Troy, at what was popularly known at one time as “The Embury Settlement,” where they again founded the first Methodist society. There Philip Embury died. John Dulmage and his wife, the grandparents of the subject of the present sketch, were among the members of that small community and for years after, the histories of these families – the Hecks, the Emburys and the Dulmages – are intimately connected.


   It was while they were in this settlement, near Ashgrove, that the troubles of the American revolution first began; the Hecks and Emburys appear to have left almost at once for Canada, so as to remain still under the British flag, and at peace, and went to Montreal where they resided for a time. John Lawrence, who appears all along to have been intimately associated with the Emburys, went along and was married to Philip Embury’s widow. They reared also a family and their descendants are yet quite numerous in the vicinity of the township of Augusta, near Prescott, to which these families soon moved from Montreal, Paul Heck’s name appears on the crown lands records of Canada as having drawn land in the eastern district, as corporal in Burgoyne’s army.


   John Dulmage appears to have taken an active part in the British ranks during the war of the revolution as a lieutenant in the Loyal Rangers, and probably served as such during the entire war. His name also appears among those to whom land was granted by the crown in the eastern district, at Augusta. The families appear to have rejoined there. It was there, too, that the first Methodist class was formed in Upper Canada, made up in part at least of the Hecks, Emburys, Lawrences and Dulmages. That may be put down as the actual formation of Methodism in Upper Canada, though that class was irregularly formed so far as church discipline is concerned because there was no regularly recognized minister to form it.


Early Canadian Methodism


   It may well be stated here that the first regularly sent Methodist missionary to Upper Canada was Rev. William Losee. He came to the province in 1790 and began his regular work in Adolphustown that year. It was there, in 1791, Sunday February 20th that the first class in the province was regularly formed, in Paul Huff’s house on Hay Bay. It was on the same lot in 1792 that the first Methodist church was built, the remains of which are still standing. It may be as well to mention just here, that the second class regularly formed was at Col. Parrott’s house, four miles east of Bath on the next Sunday, February 27th. The locality is yet known as Parrott’s Bay and a comfortable Methodist church stands there now. The third of these historic early classes was formed on Wednesday, March 2nd at Samuel Detlor’s house, two or three miles south east of where Napanee now stands. That day is also memorable in the history of Methodism as being the day of the death of John Wesley.


   When Losee first came to Canada form the New England states, he is supposed to have crossed the St. Lawrence somewhere below Cornwall – there seems no record – and came up on the Canadian side of the St. Lawrence. He then found the Augusta settlement and its class and preached there, but did not long remain, as he was on his way to see relatives and former friends in Adolphustown. There was, later on, an early Methodist church built there, but not till some years after the one in Adolphustown.


Early Events At Kingston


   Elias Dulmage, father of the present sketch, lived first with his parents at Augusta and then moved west to near Kingston, where the balance of his days were spent. He first moved to what was then known as “The Beach Farm: where he lived for a time and then moved to Kingston, probably at the time of his appointment as jailer in 1820. In 1816, George V., to whom these rough notes refer, was born and all his early years were spent in Kingston. He has still in very clear remembrance of those early years and many of the men who were leading spirits in the small community, at that time. Kingston in his early days was quite a small village, without sidewalks, or even well-graded streets, or market, or very much machinery in the shape of a local government. He says; “I remember among the early tavern keepers – they were not known as hotels then – Robert Walker, Olcott and Milcord. I also knew Kerby, Markland and Macaulay. Among the early merchants I remember were William Wilson (who later on built the large cut stone block on the corner opposite where the “Golden Lion” now stands) and his brother, Thomas Wilson, whose store was on Princess street. They both came from England and lived and died in Kingston. The surveyors I remember were Rorison, Baker and Kilborne. The market clerks, Murdock and Thomas. I well remember John Counter, who became mayor and a very popular man. He first had a small bake-shop and a candy store. The principal newspaper men of my early days were Hugh C. Thompson, who was editor and publisher of The Chronicle and he became a member of the upper house, and Stephen Miles, who printed and edited the Gazette for many years. He afterwards became a Methodist travelling preacher and died among his descendants in Ernesttown, after his superannuation. Mr. Stoughton was the leading silversmith for many years. I remember the Murneys of Murney Point and Molson and Morton, distillers. Mr. Morton was once elected to the Upper Canada legislature for Frontenac county and became a very wealthy man. The remains of his distillery are yet standing near the penitentiary. I remember the Benson family; Thomas kept a store opposite Mowat’s corner; Henry and John were twins; their only sister married Dr. Dixon; all have passed away. There were in those early days a good many soldiers across the river at the fort at Barriefield, but no bridge. The troops had a large scow, with a rope reaching from shore to shore; the men used to pull at that rope and so get the scow and their horses and freight across the river. The other men would often pull themselves across in a large ferry boat. The bridge, I think, was built by a company some time in the twenties and was then a great convenience. It was then on the main travelled road from Kingston to Brockville and all points east. A man named Rogers was appointed to build the bridge. My first teachers were a man named Gillson, an Irishman and Dr. Gunn, with whom I studied latin; then with Mr. Balfour. These were all well known teachers in their time, but the number of their scholars were few.”


   Mr. Dulmage was a school teacher for about a quarter of a century and wielded the rod in the townships of Ernesttown, Camden, Storrington and other places. Years ago he retired and has since lived a quiet and retired life at Sydenham. He was never married. His father had a family of eight or nine children, of which he is the only surviving member. The only living descendant of that entire family is the Hon. J.D. Carscallen, now a resident of New Jersey, where he has become a prominent and wealthy man. He has been speaker of the legislature in the state. He regularly remembers his old uncle and generally pays him a visit every year. Mr. Dulmage’s reminiscences are of great interest to those who are interested in the early history of the old limestone city.