opening announcement, the January meeting of the Norfolk Historical
Society featured two speakers: member William Z. Nixon on early Highway
3 and Society secretary Frank Shearer on Early Charlotteville Township..
President Dr. J. A.
Bannister produced the deed to the land upon which McKnight School in
Windham Township is situated, the gift of a friend in California.
Dr. and Mrs.
Bannister expressed thanks for the flowers celebrating their 50th
A card of
appreciation from Ernest Cantelon for flowers sent when Mrs. Cantelon
passed away last month was shown.
The death of a
member, Mrs. L. A. Wright of Port Dover was announced.
were extended to first vice president John C. Backus, who celebrated his
80th birthday last week.
Monroe Landon was
unable to attend, but sent a letter that mentioned the existence of elk
and a stand of coffee trees in Norfolk some decades ago. Two other
unusual species, a tulip tree and a cucumber tree, also grow locally.
documents in the Society's archives has begun.
W. F. Young of
Waterford will be the speaker at the February meeting. Several members
of Haldimand Historical Society will attend, tour the Museum, and
provide part of that evening's program.
resident Dr. John Gunton of London, announced that Fred Rosser of the
National Research Council in Ottawa, a descendant of Charlotteville
pioneers John Gustin and Abram Smith, would be the special speaker at
Vittoria Cemetery Decoration Day in June.
opened for Troops
Mr. Wm. Z. Nixon
presented a paper on the settlement of the present No. 3 Highway East
from Simcoe to Jarvis, the townline between Townsend and Woodhouse
This road was
opened as a result of the naval battle of Put-in-Bay, when the British
lost control of Lake Erie, and consequently were obliged to make a road
to accommodate the passage of troops and supplies overland.
Mr. Nixon read a
letter from Israel Powell of Waterford and Port Dover, claiming what is
now known at Cherry Valley Road, running between Lots 10 and 11 in
Windham and Townsend, would be a better choice.
But the townline
was chosen and the roadway was built by soldiers and runaway slaves from
the United States in the 1830 decade.
The first settler
on the road was Andrew Steinhoff in the early 1800s, the Steinhoff
family owning much of the land east of Simcoe in Woodhouse along the
names mentioned by Mr. Nixon:
Peter O'Carr, grandfather of the late Norman Counter;
Ward Osborne, the father of J. W. Osborne who died a few weeks ago at
the age of 100;
A. C. Olds;
J. B. McInally,
Scott Land, the great-grandfather of Col. Charles Lindbergh;
James Renton, who purchased the land upon which the village of Renton
the Youmans family, which built the old saw-mill before 1850;
William Hambly, early surveyor; and
John Murphy, whose daughter became the wife of Major Barnet, well-known
mentioned by Mr. Nixon:
-- the old cheese factory, part of which is included in Ruth's Wayside
-- the village of Renton, which contained several business enterprises,
of which only the store remains;
-- the old log school house known as No. 10 Townsend;
-- the old Grindstone Inn at Renton, which today stands near its
-- the ashery of William Armstrong and John Baker on the east bank of
the east branch of Black Creek.
presentation concentrated on the early history of his family and the
Shearer family home near Vittoria. It gave a good idea of circumstances
faced by the pioneers.
great-grandfather, Robert Shearer, was born in Scotland, left an orphan,
and sent at an early age to America, where he was "bound out"
to a New Jersey Dutchman, for whom he slaved until he was 21.
Then he came to
Ontario, carrying his possessions on his back, settling on Lot 21,
Concession 6, Charlotteville, and building a log house. He married
Rachel, a daughter of pioneer Abraham Smith, and cleared his farm.
A neighbor, Joseph Kitchen, who came to Charlotteville in 1800, helped
Twenty years later
the Shearer home that still stands was built. It measures 28 feet by 43
feet. In those days a pound of nails cost the equivalent of a bushel of
wheat so oak pins were use in building. The huge old beams are still in
good shape today.
The speaker told
-- the settlers having to go to Niagara to buy a bushel of salt and to
get grain ground,
-- the wolf pit on the farm where the animals were lured and
-- the school on the Kitchen farm, known later as the Tisdale
-- the planting of apple seeds and nuts,
-- the simple social life of the early days, and
-- the building of Vittoria Baptist Church in 1804.