Written Fifty-Five Years Ago
The Purdys, Herchimers and Other Neighboring Settlers
- Sketch of the Writer - Tracing Their Descendants.
Thomas W. Casey, of Napanee, is continuing his very useful and fruitful investigations. A very interesting manuscript has recently been loaned to him by Peregreve M. Clark, Ernesttown. It contains the “reminiscences“ of his father, John Collins Clark, and was written fifty-five years ago, in 1844, and gives his remembrances of the U.E. Loyalist pioneers settled along the Bay of Quinte shores of Ernesttown, and also some of the lots in Kingston and Fredericksburgh. The Ernesttown record is a very complete one, giving a very accurate and minute record of the families first located on every front lot in the township, commencing with the Kingston boundary line. That is followed by a much briefer and less comprehensive notice of some of the families in Kingston township. As these may be of interest to many readers of the Whig they are here enclosed.
The Purdy family located in the last lot in Ernesttown adjoining Kingston and some of the descendents became residents of the latter. It may be as well, therefore, to give Mr. Clark’s reminiscences of them. He writes:
“David Purdy located the last lot (No. 42) on the front of Secondtown, east side. He married Miss Abigail Ostrum, whose connections settled in the township of Sidney, not far from Belleville. He had a large family most of whom are still living (in 1844). Two of his youngest sons, Samuel and Joseph, reside on the old farm. The old man is dead, but his widow still survives.
“Gilbert, the oldest son of the Purdy family, married Miss Asenith Goldsmith, of Hallowell, who left him. Ruliff, another son, married a widow Gilbert, of Sidney, where he resides, and has become a prominent and wealthy man. David was accidentally shot and killed when a boy by his cousin, John Everett. Samuel married Eliza, a daughter of Samuel Lockwood, and Joseph married Minerva, her sister. John and Jacob married daughters of Jacob Fretts, of Fredericksburgh. Elizabeth married a Mr. Woodward; he died and she married again. Mary married John Abbott; he died and she married William Ellerbeck. Old Mrs. Purdy, mother of these children, has from her youth been troubled at times with aberration of mind and several of the children have been similarly affected.
David Purdy’s brothers, Micajah, Gilbert and Samuel, settled in the township of Kingston. they had large families. Samuel moved to some distant place. Gilbert is still living, he was twice married, and Micajah, who died lately, was married five times, and was the father of twenty-three children, nine of whom, and his last wife are living. His two first wives were sisters by the name of Sands, of Newburgh, New York state, the third was a Miss Ann Detlor, of Fredericksburgh, the fourth a Miss Embury (niece of the third) and the fifth Miss Mithebel Holmes, also of Newburgh, N.Y.
Nicholas Herchimer, son of Capt. Herchimer, settled on the point in Kingston township, called “Herchimer’s Point”. He married Charlotte Purdy, and had a number of children. The manner of his death was as follows: He had some business with two blacksmiths by the name of Rogers, working at Isaac Hough’s shop in Ernesttown. the blacksmiths quarrelled with him and beat him; he managed to return as far as the writer’s house at evening, on horseback, where he died before morning. The murderers were arrested and committed to prison, but before their trial they broke jail and escaped from the province. The widow Herchimer married Robert Abernetha, she died last year (1843). Capt. Lamoine, a retired officer of the army now owns the farm.
“The oldest son, Laurance Herchimer, married Miss Elizabeth Baker; she died, and he lately married Miss Hannah Losee, widow of James Losee jr. There were other sons - John, Jacob and Nicholas. Jacob is dead. One of the daughters married Prentice J. Fitch; she has been dead many years. Mr. Fitch married a widow Noland, he is dead. Another of the Herchimer daughters married Capt. Sadlier; One married Lewis Wartman, and another an officer in the army.”
Other Neighboring Families
“Below Mr. Herchimer, on the front, were Mr. Holmes, Barnabas Wartman, Mr. Day and Mr. Everett. the latter married a Miss Purdy and his son, Charles Everett, married a daughter of Davis Hawley, Ernesttown. His brother, Daniel Everett, also married a daughter of Davis Hawley for his first wife; she died and he married Miss Mary Marsh, of the township of Hope. He is dead and she remains a widow. John Everett lives in Belleville. One of old Mr. Everett’s daughters married Peter Grass. She died lately. Two others married in succession Capt. Coleman of Belleville. The old gentleman has been dead many years. On the front was also settled Messrs. Joseph Ferris, Peter Wartman, Graham, Ellerbeck, Capt. Herchimer and Mr. Grass. John Grass, son of the latter, married Miss Catherine Snook. Among others settled in the township of Kingston were the Messrs. Day and Knight, Buck and Bright, Horning, Powley, Burnett, Babcock, Lap, Abbertson, Purdys, Ryders, Smiths and McGuins.
“In the town of Kingston I can recollect, among the early settlers Messrs. Cartwright, Forsyth, Ferguson, Cuthbertson, Markland, Anderson, Lyons, Smith, McAulay, Robins, Collk, Perriber, Merril, Stoughton, Gray, Hix, Cassaday, Ashley, Burley, Cummings, Stover, Kirby and others who were merchants, inn-keepers and mechanics, not to omit the Rev. John Stuart, the first clergyman of the Church of England. Several of the descendants in that town are now lawyers, clergymen, schoolmasters and gentlemen, and not a few whose family names have become extinct, no male branches remaining, largely attributable to intemperate habits.”
Sketch of the Writer
The writer of the foregoing, J. C. Clark, was a son of Robert Clark, who built the first grist mill in Upper Canada at Kingston Mills, in 1783, under the direction of the British government, for the benefit of the early settlers. Both father and son settled on the front of Ernesttown, about four miles west of Collins Bay, where both lived and died. The son was named after John Collins, the first deputy-surveyor of this province, under whose direction the surveys of the first four townships were principally made in 1783 and 1784. Mr. Collins owned quite a large tract of land in the vicinity of Collins Bay, a mile square or more, which was afterwards sold to archdeacon, G. O’Kill Stuart, for a trifling amount. J.D. Clark was a schoolmaster at his native place as early as 1810, and the old school register of the daily attendance is still in existence and in a good state of preservation. He was also path-master in 1820, and the record of the assessment, for statute labor on his “beat” and the credit given to each man is also still in existence, as well as the account for building a schoolhouse in that locality in 1820. He was an uncle of the late Charles Clark, for many years a resident of Kingston, who is still well remembered by the older readers of the Whig.