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WHERE THE FATHERS OF ONTARIO LIE BURIED
SOME PECULIAR INSCRIPTIONS
VICTIMS OF DIPHTHERIA AND THE CHOLERA PLAGUE

 

Lennox and Frontenac witnessed the very beginnings of Ontario. In the two old counties is found the story of many of the First Things in the Province. It was along their front that the first settlement was formed by the refugees who came to this country after the American revolution, and it was here that the first Ontario municipal organization was formed.

 

The people who made up the pioneers settlement left New York in the fall of 1783; their route lay around the Atlantic coast in ships furnished by the British Government to Richelieu, where the winter of 1783-84 was spent, in huts built from material furnished by the neighboring forest, and in spring the journey was continued in open boats, made from trees felled during the winter, Cataraqui being reached in June.

 

The pioneers were in four companies and to each was allotted one township. Captain Grass and party taking No. 1 (Kingston), Sir John Johnson No. 2 (Ernesttown), Colonel Rogers No. 3 (Fredericksburgh) and Major VanAlstine No. 4 (Adolphustown).

 

BACK TO THE TIME OF THE FRENCH WARS

 

There is an interesting story behind the allotment of the townships. The first choice of location would naturally have fallen to Sir John Johnson, but Captain Grass had been for two years a prisoner in the hands of the French at Frontenac, before the capture of Quebec by Wolfe, and it was as a result of information gathered by him while a prisoner that the place of settlement was decided upon. The body of Captain Grass now lies in what is known as the Methodist Cemetery at Cataraqui, just across the road from the burial place of Sir John Macdonald. There stands at the head of the grave a rough stone slab, projecting about one foot above the ground and bearing the simple inscription:


MICHAEL GRASS

Died April 25, 1813

Aged 78 years

 

Speaking of this early settlement T.W. Casey, who deserves the title of historian of the pioneers, said; "Those who settled the first three townships were mainly soldiers, or people drawn from the mercantile and professional classes of the old thirteen colonies. The settlers in Adolphustown were mainly farmers. The intention was to make each township ten miles square, but Fredericksburgh Township was not large enough to hold the party allotted to it, and so thirteen lots were taken off Adolphustown to make up the deficiency."

 

THE FIRST LANDING PLACE

 

The Adolphustown settlers made their first landing in a little cove within a stone's throw of where the fine residence of D. W. Allison, ex- M.P. now stands, and on the farm of which Nicholas Hagerman, referred to again lower down, was first owner. The first duty of the pilgrims was a very sad one. It was to find a place of burial for a child, which, weakened by the hardships of the long journey, had died soon after reaching the end of the journey. The place selected is a few yards back from the water's edge on a slight eminence. This burial marked the beginning of the first cemetery in Upper Canada by English-speaking people. The cemetery is still there. Somewhere within its bounds lies the body of Nicholas Hagerman, one of the first practicing lawyers in Canada. Nicholas Hagerman was father of Chief Justice Hagerman, three of his sons served as members of Parliament, and the widow of Hon. John Beverley Robinson is a granddaughter. No one knows now just where the body of this distinguished first settler rests.


"You see," said the Rev. R. S. Forneri, "stones could not be procured at the time when the first burials took place, and the wooden slabs erected as memorials were soon destroyed by the action of the elements."

 

OVER 100 YEARS AGO

 

The oldest tombstone on which the lettering can be made out is one bearing this inscription:


Here Lies Entombed
HANNAH VAN DUSEN
Who deceased March 8, 1798


She was the first wife of Conrad Van Dusen, and faithfully discharged the duties of a companion, a friend and a citizen.


The stone is now grey with age, and is leaning over rather than standing above the grave.


A fairly well preserved plot, surrounded by a broken iron fence, holds the bodies of a number of the Caseys and Ingersolls. In one of the graves lies the body of Jane, wife of Willet Casey, who died February 12 1856, in her 93rd year.


A broken slab marks the resting place of Henry Hover, who departed this life August 23 1812.

 

LIFE-LONG DEVOTION TO A MEMORY

 

A touching story of life-long devotion is behind the simple inscription over two bodies which lie side by side. On the bottom of the stone is recorded the fact that Jane, wife of Jacob Huffnail, died September 6, 1835; above is the statement that the husband died February 22 1880. Below all are the words:-


Our bodies lie beneath the sod

Our spirits gone to be with God.


For forty-five long years the faithful and loving husband waited for the reunion which came at last.


In the northeast corner is a plot enclosed by an iron railing. In this lie the bodies of Joseph Allison and Mary Richmond, his wife. The former died July 23 1840, and the latter in October following.


All around are little mounds and pieces of weather-beaten boards. Many of these show the resting place of men who left an indelible impress on Canadian history, but it is now impossible to distinguish one from the other. Even the barbed wire fence surrounding the whole graveyard is breaking down, and the apple, oak and maple trees sheltering the graves present an uncared-for appearance.

Looking towards the south is a splendid granite shaft, bearing the inscription:


U.E. LOYALIST BURYING GROUND

In memory of the Loyalists who landed here 18th June 1784


But the monument only serves to bring out in bolder relief the uncared-for appearance of the place where the fathers of Ontario lie buried.

 

IN THE MEMORIAL CHURCH

 

A splendid memorial to the pioneers has, through the exertions of Rev. R. S. Forneri, been erected in the form of a picturesque stone church, standing on an eminence a little way off. In that church friends of the departed have placed tablets in commemoration of the departed.


One of these contains the name of Richard John Cartwright, a member of the first Legislative Council, and grandfather of the Sir Richard of today.


Another has been placed as a memorial to Lieut.-Col. Jarvis, who was born in 1756, and whose descendants are known from one end of Canada to the other.


Near by is one to the memory of Alex. Fisher, Judge of the First Midland District, and grandfather on the mothers' side of ex-Lieutenant-Governor Kirkpatrick.


Others remembered are Rev. John Bethune of the Glengarry Highlanders, grandfather of Bishop Bethune; Right Rev. Chas. Inglis, D. D. first Bishop of Nova Scotia; Rev. John Stuart, missionary to the Mohawks, and father of the church in Upper Canada, and Elijah Wallbridge, father or grandfather of Chief Justice Wallbridge.


Most of the pioneers lived to a good old age, several of them reaching 90 and over.


As above stated, it was the pioneers of Adolphustown who created the first municipal organization in Ontario - before such was even authorized by Parliament. In Fact, Parliament seems to have taken the Adolphustown organisation as a model for the Province generally. The old record of this organization is still in existence.


"That record," said T.W. Casey, "written by men engaged in all the rough, hard work incident to pioneering, is a model of neatness. I question if there is a more neatly kept record of municipal proceedings in the Province today. The men who first settled about Adolphustown were of superior ability and attainments."

 

TWO STRICKEN FAMILIES

 

In the grounds attached to the memorial church is a more modern burial ground that the old one down by the bay shore, but one which is still of more than passing interest. In the Membery plot is a shaft to the memory of Amos Membery, a native of Dorsetshire, Eng., "who died Feb 21 1855." There also rests Elizabeth Raymond, wife of Giles Membery, who was also "born in Dorsetshire." It is particularly noticeable how often here, and in the old burial places about Kingston, the fact is recorded on tombstones that those who rest beneath were natives of some shire in England. The memories of the ivy-clad churches, flowering hedgerows, and quaint streets of the old land were fresh even to the latest hour amid the rude surroundings of the new.


The saddest sight in the whole graveyard is found in two little groups of headstones, four in each. In one group four white slabs, each bearing a dove stand above the graves of


John F. Young, died Feb 5, 1878 aged nine years and seven months.

William Artyd Young, died June 6, '78 aged four years and two months.

Geo. E. Young, died June 13 '78, aged six years and six months.

Albert O. Young, died June 15 '78, aged four years and two months


A little way off the other four stones mark the graves of


John P. Pollard, died March 10 '78, aged nine years and one month.

Elizabeth E. Pollard, died March 10, '78, aged two years and one month.

Philip W. Pollard, died March 19 '78, aged four years and two months.

Thos. F. Pollard, died March 29 '78, aged six years and five months.


The children were victims of diphtheria. There have been many times of mourning in Adolphustown in the last hundred years, but never did two families go through such a period of heart-breaking suffering as did the Pollards and Youngs in the black years of seventy-eight.

 

A PLAYMATE OF SIR JOHN


One of the most interesting figures in the neighborhood where the Adolphustown settlers first located is Parker Allen, a grandson of Capt. Allen, who was second in command of the Adolphustown pioneers. Old Capt. Allen was, when the revolutionary war broke out, a Quaker and a mill owner at Monmouth County, N.J. In the early stages of the war he accepted a contract for the supply of flour and provisions for the British army. By supplying means of sustenance to the British Mr. Allen aroused the hostility of the Americans, and during his absence from home they looted his mill. This roused the old Adam in the good Quaker, and laying aside his peace proclivities, he joined the British forces and was given the rank of Captain. After the war, when the refugees reached Adolphustown, one of the sons of Capt. Allen, father of the Parker Allen of today, received as his share of the allotment for the family the two hundred acres forming lot 20 con. 1. That farm Parker Allen assisted to clear up, and it is divided between two of his sons of today. Thus there are two of the fourth generation occupying land, which the great grandfather received from the Crown over 100 years ago. Is there another similar case in Ontario?


The original allotment of farms in the pioneer settlement was, by the way, made in the simplest manner possible. Slips containing numbers were place in a hat or box, and each one drew in turn, the number of the slip drawn being the number of the lot secured.


Parker Allen, the head of the Allen family today, although in the nineties, is still firm in his step, and his mind is as clear as that of many men of 60. He served in the old County Council at Kingston before Frontenac was set apart from Lennox and Addington and 60 years ago, he filled the office of Municipal Clerk. He was a schoolmate of Sir John Macdonald when he later, as a barefooted boy between five and twelve, attended one of the first schools in the township.


"Nearly all my old companions are gone," he said, when I asked him about his early experiences. "Of those who went to the school which Sir John attended, Mrs. Garner (she was a Harris) is, so far as I know, the only one besides myself left."

 

AN OLD-TIME SCHOOL EXAMINATION


Asked for some little incident of the past, the old man said, "I remember one day there was an examination at the school and Sir John and his two sisters, Margaret and Louisa were present. Louisa (she was the favorite child) gave as her recitation that old piece which has been recited by so many children since - "My Mother."


"Who fed me from her gentle breast

And hushed me in her arms to rest,

And on my cheek sweet kisses prest?

My mother."


"The verses were beautifully and touchingly given, and tears welled up in the mother's eyes as the little girl came back and sat by her side. But they are all - Margaret, Louisa and John - all gone now."


Margaret afterwards married Prof. Williamson, of Queen's and hers is one of the three tombstones still standing in what was an old burying ground in Kingston, but is now one of the city parks.


Pressed again for something about the old times, Mr. Allen said, " John was a mischievous lad, not bad but full of fun. Once when he was playing with my sister near the bay shore, he shoved her into the water and she retaliated by soundly boxing his ears."


"Sir John's father," continued the speaker, "kept store on the third concession, near the old Quaker meeting house. Only the stonework of the chimney is left. Afterwards Mr. Macdonald, Sen., rented the Glenora mill (the old stone mill) and while he was there Sir John went to school and studied law in Picton."


On the Allen farm is one of the early school houses in the section. It was erected under contract by D.W. Allison and John Watson. Afterwards when the section was divided Mr. Allen bought the building , and for twenty years it was rented for a dwelling. It is now used, rent free, as a place of meeting of the Plymouth Brethren.


Mr. Allen remembers the consecration of the old English church which preceded the present memorial to the pioneers. "A bottle was broken on a stone, " he said, "as it was named St. Paul."

 

 

 

 

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