I, Eunice Deverell Hill, have put down some of the things Mother
told me about her father Mark Brown, herself and family, starting
with the early days near Simcoe, Ontario.
In England, a scheme had
been started to send men out to Canada to settle the country in
Upper Canada. These head men were to help settlers to their land and
generally look after them, while getting used to their new homes.
My grandfather, Mark Brown,
and his brother George, immigrated from England as 'head men' in
1832. George and his wife settled near Paris. Grandfather and his
wife settled miles south, near Simcoe, which was nearly all woods,
cleared a farm and built log houses.
The local natives were
friendly, and Grandfather was good to them. One stormy winter night,
several natives came to the door, wanting to sleep there.
Grandfather took them upstairs near the big chimney. They wrapped
their blankets around themselves and slept on the floor. Grandma
wanted to lock the stair door but grandfather said no -- the Indians
would not like that. Early next morning they went out quietly.
Another time a lot of them
came and wanted to cook a meal. An old squaw put all kinds of
vegetables and meat in a huge iron pot over the fireplace. When it
was done Mother, about three or four at the time, said she wanted to
sit up at the table with them and have some stew.
Some years later when her
brother Albert was sick, Grandma heard a lot of Indians coming up
the road from Simcoe, drunk, shouting and singing. Grandfather was
away, so Grandma and mother put out all the lights, and went down
near the road to hide. The Indians wanted to go to the house, but
the Chief said over and over "No, sick boy there", until
he got them turned up the side road and away. Mother said that there
hadn't been an Indian around for some time and wondered how he know
about a sick boy.
Many times earlier the wolves
looked in the windows at night.
The first big log house was destroyed by fire. It had a huge
fireplace, that took logs three or four feet long, also a big back
oven above it. Mother remembers her half-sister Sarah lifting her up
to see 24 loaves of bread baking, also 24 pigeons roasting. They had
long wooden shovels to reach in to put the pans in or take them out.
A long-handled brass bed
warmer filled with hot coals was used to warm the beds at night in
winter. It was like a good sized deep pan with a cover, and hung up
by the fireplace during the daytime.
Later grandfather had the
first iron cook stove, and people came from miles around to see it.
There was a large cooper shop near the house, where a lot of hired
men worked, making barrels and other things they needed.
Mother's half-sister Sarah
married Giles Dennis. Mother was about 2 years old and was sitting
on Giles lap after the ceremony. Someone said Giles was taking Sarah
away and Mother cried about it.
Nearly everyone around kept
sheep and had a loom to weave cloth for their homespun dresses,
blankets and quilts. We had a blue and white woven spread, a
wonderful pattern! They dyed the wool yarn after spinning and
carding it. I don't know what became of these old things. They used
butternut to dye dark brown and other such things for dark blue and
When George and Mark left England with their wives, their mother
gave each son a case of silver with the initials G.B. and M.B. on
every piece. These pieces of silver were divided amongst the
families in later years. I have a tablespoon that mother had, Aunt
Carry had a tablespoon and teaspoon, which was given to her
granddaughter Eva Wade, and when she married Howard McIntyre in
1947, she gave them to my grandchildren, Shirley and Donald Duncan.
One of George Brown's great
granddaughters, Edna Balkwill Mussett, was visiting us a few years
ago. I showed her my tablespoon and told her the history. She said
she had one like it, but had thought it belonged to her her
grandfather, George Balkwill. Her grandmother was Sarah Brown,
second oldest daughter of George Brown.
When George Brown and family
were coming over on the boat, which then took several weeks, their
two year old girl took sick and died. She was buried at sea.
They had to make everything.
Mother told me about a candle maker they had. A large iron affair
that held twelve candles. The round deep sockets were 1.5 feet deep
and about two inches across, and had a thick wick or cord about the
size of Mother's little finger. It was threaded through holes to go
down into the sockets, where mutton tallow was poured while hot,
then allowed to set. Mother did this after school and other chores
when she was older. There was also a candle snuffer.
White sugar came in bee-hive
shapes a foot or so high, round at the base as large as a dinner
plate. They had sharp iron clippers, something like a pair of shears
with small rounding blades, to clip pieces of sugar from the mound.
Grandma had a pair that her Mother's (my great Grandma Stratton)
had. She gave them to Maud years ago.
Speaking of dinner plates,
Maud and I have 'Blue Willow" ones, Large size, deep in the
centre, from Grandma's old set. All their dishes were very large c.
There used to be a tollgate,
a short way from Grandfather's on the gravel Talbot road. A Mrs.
Babock was hired to collect the toll. Mother's two brothers. Will
and Steve liked to go evenings to her home and listen to her read
Scottish poems and prose. There were children, Ruth was near
mother's age, who later married a Mr. Coates in Simcoe and had a
daughter Cora, who married a Will Brown, a son of Henry Brown. Will
and Cora had several children, Roy and Viola being the only ones I
knew. Roy died in 1955, Viola , Mrs. Robert Gillespie, lives in
Seattle. She is a great granddaughter of Mark Brown.
A family named Mills, who
lived a half mile or so from Grandma's, gave a piece of their farm
on the gravel road for a cemetery. One of the daughters, visiting in
the States, brought back a shrub to put at the head of one of their
graves. It spread all over, and grew into a small tree with thorns,
and in time became so locked that no one could get in. Slab
tombstones were pushed down, but nothing could be done about it. The
farmers around the fenced cemetery had to plow all the time to keep
the thorny trees out. Years after (when we moved from
Marquette, Michigan) after Father died, it was still there, dark
looking and dense. I do not know what ever was done about it.
When Mother went to school,
the monetary sysyem was changed from pounds, shillings and pence, to
dollars and cents. Mother was born in 1847, so it must have been in
1855 or so.
Grandpa's first wife was a Caroline Bannister. Her sister, a Mrs. Kent lived nearer to Simcoe. Years later they gave a piece of their
farm for a road that branched off the gravel road, to enter into the
heart of Simcoe. It used to be called the Kent Road. Other roads
around the County, through swampland, were called cordurey roads, as
there were logs laid crosswise and were they ever bumpy!
A brother of Mrs. Kent, Billie
Bannister, an older man, came out from England, travelled
from coach, after he left the boat to Simcoe. He was sick with
typhoid fever when he arrived, and was delirious for weeks. When he
got better, he asked for his money belt, and was told he never had
one on when he arrived there. Mother said he always blamed his
brother-in-law for taking it, but someone may have robbed him on his
trip when he was sick.
Mother remembers seeing her father's linen
money belt hanging in the kitchen. It was long enough to buckle
around his waist and under his clothes. It was stitched in two rows
of squares to hold gold pieces of considerable value.
A few years after Uncle
Billie Bannister came to Canada, a relative died in England and left
a lot of money. Uncle Billie thought as he was the oldest, he should
be the one to do the business of getting all the names and dates of
birth of the ones in Ontario. Apparently he was too old but would
not let anyone help him or see the papers. The result was, although
all the names were correct, in his excitement he left his own name
off the list and the lawyers in England said it couldn't be the
right people, and threw the money in Chancery.
For years they wrote
and some went to England, but there was nothing anyone could do.
Uncle Billie was so upset over it all, he died a year or so
afterwards. Lawyers had often tried and one in Simcoe said it was no
use trying anymore. But a year or so afterwards, this lawyer seemed
to have a lot of money, brought a property, built a large house and
made a 'good fellow' of himself. The relatives of the Bannisters
always thought that he got some or all of the money from
England in some way.
Mother went to learn dressmaking at a Miss Glover in Simcoe, in her
late teens and her half sister Cary learned tailoring. One winter
Mother went to visit Aunt Brown in Paris, Ontario. George Brown had
died so his wife and daughters Cartherine and Elizabeth lived in
town. A son George on the farm. Sarah, an older daughter was married
to George Balkwill, and they had a son Robert.
Mother froze her foot
and could not get her shoes on for the rest of the winter. The two
cousins were getting married, so wanted mother to stay with their
mother, which she did. Mother lived there for several years, sewing
for people. It was while there, she meet Joseph R. Deverell, as he
was a nephew of Aunt Brown. They were married Dec 27th, 1871, and a
year later, moved to Marquette, Michigan.
Earlier I spoke of the Cooper shop, where all kinds of tools were
kept. There was a teenaged boy living in the neighborhood who
wasn't quite bright, but no one thought him dangerous, so didn't pay
much attention to him when he was around. One day he went into the
shop, as he often did. Grandpa had his back to him, the boy picked
up an axe and struck him on the head. He died some hours later, June
11th, 1870 -- 73 years old. Mother had to come by stage coach
from Paris, Ontario to Simcoe. When the policeman took the boy to
jail and asked him why he killed Mr. Brown, he said he didn't know,
but he was going to kill some little girl, also a lady who lived in
the neighborhood, They finally took him to Hamilton Insane Asylum.
About this time or earlier, Henry, Mother's half brother, who had
been in Michigan for years with his wife and children, developed
consumption, as it was called then. He came home for a visit with
his parents. He was sitting on the porch, so white and thin. An
elderly Indian came up to the porch, and after looking at Henry for
awhile, pointed his fingers at Henry and said "you Mark Brown's
boy, you sick?" Henry said yes. "You like to fish?" Henry said he did, but they were not
in season just now. "Indian can fish anytime." So away
they went and came back with a fresh white trout.
Henry died in 1871. Their children were Carey, Cecelia, and Will.
Carey married a Mr. Adams, no children. Cecelia married a Mr. Dennison, their two children, Earl & Mona. Earl was killed in
the first war, Mona married a Mr. Sanborn and lived at Ilderton near
London, Ontario. They have two sons, Tom and Earl.
When Joseph Deverell was a child, someone said the world would come
to an end in 1892. Father said he often wondered if it would. For
him it did, as he died at noon, Dec. 31, 1892, in Marquette, Mich!
When Father, Joseph R.
Deverell, was a young man, he was a Corporal in a Brantford military
regiment. We think they were sent to Ft. Erie when a Fenian Raid was
feared in 1866. One time at a military ball in Brantford, Father and
a young lady won first prize for the best dancers in Brantford.
Years later, on a holiday in Brantford, I told them about Father. We
went to a dance in Brantford and George Hearne and I danced. Two by
two the other couples dropped out, but the music kept on and so did
George and I. All the dancers got up again, and finally dropped out
a second time. George asked if I wished to stop. I said "I can
keep up as long as the music goes", so we kept dancing until
the music stopped. Everyone cheered and applauded. When I was told
that I was the best dancer in Brantford, I thought Father would have
been so pleased.
I visited Nan Wilson that summer, and her father
said, "used to know a Joe Deverell years ago in school, we were
school friends." I said "My father attended school in
Brantford." Mr. Wilson said "I have often wondered what
became of Joe." What a coincidence!
Our Memories of our Father
Father was always so eager to have us see everything of interest. In
1882, he got us all up in the middle of the night to look out the
window to see the great Comet. A neighbor shot a wolf and he took we
three older children to see it. Father got permission to take
Wallace and me, on the first trial trip to a new R.R. as far as Au
Train, all through the woods from Marquette. Just one coach with
about six men and we two children. He also took us aboard the first
"Whaleback" or "Cigar" tanker, which berthed in
He took us for long walks,
often a ten mile stretch, through the woods surrounding Marquette,
always pointing out everything of interest. Other times along Lake
Superior shore, always hunting for agates. Father was always
interested in collecting minerals or anything of interest.
In the early 1880's Father
took Wallace and me to see Sam Lee, the first Chinaman to come to
Marquette, who started the first laundry in a little house on South
4th St. He had a long pigtail, and his shirt was outside his pants.
He was ironing a shirt, and then filled his mouth with water and
sprinkled the shirt. He asked Father if I was a girl, and then said,
"A nice girl," and I was elated.
Father made one most unexplainable act of thoughtlessness, when he
had my birth registered. He never mentioned the name
"Deverell." I figure he must have known the Registar, and
not thought it necessary. He just gave the name "Maud Van
Iderstine", with father "Joseph Robert", mother
"Mary Ann". So I became "Maud Van Iderstine",
father "Joseph Van Iderstine" and mother "Mary
Ann". The Van Iderstines lived in Marquette, and the Registar
would be familiar with the name.
Then, in transferring it to
the records in the Capitol in Lansing, the name "Maud"
became "Amanda", no doubt due to poor writing. So I was
legally "Amanda Van Iderstine" for sixty-five years. It
was only in 1941, when attending Alvina Helen Deverell's funeral in
Marquette, that I wrote to Dr. Van Iderstine asking him to please
get my birth certificate. That's when the mistake was discovered. It
took a lot of writing and legal work to get it straightened out.
Poor Father would have been so chagrined.
Father had a keen sense of humor. He was fine looking man, tall and
straight. He had light brown hair and short auburn beard and
mustache. A neighbor, Mr. Gregory, was all red, and they used to
joke each other about their coloring. One day when they met,
Father said, "Oh, it's you, is it? I thought it was a light house
coming up the hill."
Father was manager of a
heavy hardware store, through five changes of personnel in the
company. He held the position from the time he went to Marquette
from Paris, Ontario, until the day of his death. He had a heart
condition and should not have been doing any lifting, but with a
family to support, he felt he could not stop working. He never told
Mother about his condition and sacrificed his life for us.
Father was a great reader
and very fond of books. He was also very appreciative of anything
one did, especially Mother's work and cleverness. He once described
a man as reminding him of three pianos. "Grand",
"Square" and "Upright". And these three words
best describe Father. He was respected and liked by everyone. A good
friend, he was "an honest man, the noblest work of God."
compiled and written by Maud Van I. Deverell in 1961