Every man and woman
who knew Benjamin Shaw respected him. On
the farm he was the soul of action. There was no better worker anywhere,
and he succeeded in getting every one to do his part.
In the days of the
grain cradle he could swing his equal to the very best. He took the lead
and kept it in his own harvest fields, and if any laggard was found he
was cashiered and sent home. He was not the best farmer in the township,
but he had a farm of splendid soil and raised splendid crops.
was a man of superior judgment, and could see what national and
international affairs such as war, were likely to happen, and thereby
obtained better prices than many of his neighbors. For two or three
years before the Crimean war he saw that the storm was brewing, and kept
his wheat in the granaries till the war began, and there was a great
demand for his grain. He made several thousand dollars more than he
would if he had sold at the time of threshing.
His family consisted of five sons and two daughters. The eldest daughter
became the wife of the Rev. E. Ryerson, a Methodist at that time, but
became a Baptist and was pastor of the Baptist church in Simcoe at the
time of his death in 1863. He left two daughters and three
Ryerson, when a girl, attended school at the Olds school house. She was
the cleverest scholar there, and one of the brightest girls ever born in
Norfolk. She was a beautiful reader and would have made a name on the
stage if her mind had been so directed. Her voice was beautiful and her
The other daughter is the wife of Toronto barrister Elgin Shoff.
five sons were Baldwin, Franklin, John, Kinsley and Anson. Baldwin died
in Michigan some years since. John died a day or two after the Boughner
picnic two years ago. The writer visited him several times during his
last few days, but he was not able to recognize me or any one else. He
married when quite young one of the fairest daughters of the county,
Miss Juliet Steinhoff.
Shaw was a gentleman and a firm friend to education, although he had no
advantages for learning when a boy. He was not in favor of free schools
when first introduced; but when he understood their general benefit he
was not known to make any word of objection.
he was a great worker, he found time to entertain friends when they came
to visit him, and was not forgetful of the Apostle's injunction. He and
Mrs. Shaw were divided in their church membership, he being a Methodist,
she a Baptist.
personal appearance Mr. Shaw was always neat. This was characteristic of
Townsend farmers, but he was exceptionally so. No matter where you saw
him, at home or abroad, on the farm or in the church, he was never
careless, but always cleanly and his clothing in apple pie order. He
left a farm to each of his boys.
writing these reminiscences, the writer cannot be expected to do full
justice to all, but he feels more should be said, even at the risk of
being considered verbose or tedious, of the Culver family.
a little south of Bloomsburg and joining the village was and is one of
the Culver farms where were born five brothers and two sisters with
Christian names Philip, Mahlon, Oliver, Aaron, Thomas, Amy and Jane. Some
will remember the hame of their father, but the writer remembers their
loving mother, Rebecca. Everybody called her "Aunt Becky."
loved all the children. I was 11 years old when she sat by her old fire
place and told me stories to delight any ear. She told one which I would
like to forget, but she told it so vividly that it would not be
forgotten: the Sovereen murder, which occurred in Windham
about the year 1830-3.
would be difficult to find a kinder or more affectionate woman than Aunt
Becky. "Her children rise up and call her blessed." Of her
seven children only one is living, Mahlon. He and his wife reside with
their son at Simcoe.
a young man, Aaron married a Miss Appleford. They were a happy and amiable
couple, and began farming at Tyrrell as it is now, in Townsend, where
they resided ever since till their deaths, hers several years ago, his
only a few months since. He has always been a hard worker, but never let
his work boss him. If a temperance meeting, or a spelling match, or
surprise to a friend, or a picnic, you could wager that Squire Culver
would be on deck. He was an enthusiast in temperance work, and was
foremost in church. Both he and his wife were Baptists. The writer
remembers but one child. She is Mrs. Kellum. "Her husband is known
when he sitteth among the counsellors."
spelling matches, they were quite common in the old days, and nights as
well. They gave us boys and girls a splendid chance of which we were not
slow in taking advantage.
was in the winter of 1857-8, we had one of those joy producers at
Wiggins Corners, just one concession south of Renton. Squire Culver was
a regular attendant. Whang, the miller, loved money no better than the
Squire loved the "Spelin Skule." One evening he was
pronouncing words for the chosen to spell. I was the referee, and a part
of my duty was to define the words when required. The word
"tongue" was given, and at that particular moment only two or
three were left standing. One was a Miss Douglas, the tallest girl in
the county. It was her turn to spell. She knew the word very well, but,
for a little fun's sake answered "tongue, a little race horse that
often run away with women."
enjoyed a laugh, the Squire the heartiest of all, and the incident
passed. So also did more than 50 years, and when at the Boughner picnic,
I saw a lady, and by her height took her to be Miss Douglas. I asked if
I could be excused for speaking. She replied "You don't have to ask
to be excused. I remember your definition. You were right. The little
race horse ran away with me, and I am mother and grandmother and
great-grandmother. How is it with you?" I answered in accordance
with the facts.
Philip was the first born. He lived all his life on the farm were he was
born. He and his wife were careful to see that their children were not
deficient in education. They were zealots in the Baptist church,
Bloomsburg, at the time of their deaths a few years since.
children were mostly daughters, one of whom resides in Buffalo, N.Y. I
believe she is still a Culver, as her husband is a son of the late
Michael Culver, who lived and died at what is now called the Sand Hill.
At an early day it was called Hard Scrabble, supposedly because it
required a hard scrabble to make a living there. It is different now.
The farms are in good condition and scrabbling is now necessary.
Another daughter is the wife of Professor David Barber. Soon after their
marriage they were students of the celebrated Dr. Root at Chicago and
became graduates in instrumental and vocal music; but owing to throat
trouble he professor had to quit singing. In my opinion he is the finest
organist in the county.
he was married the little brick church at Old Windham was dedicated.
Some few are living who heard the singing on that occasion by the Misses
Culver and Charles Friedenmoot. As they sang "The Little Brown
Church in the Vale," the people were more than delighted. David
Barber was the conductor. Dr. Robinson, the preacher, declared he had
never heard as good singing in his life.
Oliver became a blacksmith, and was good at his trade. He must have made
money as he was scarely ever away from his shop. "A rolling stone
gathers no moss." The converse of this is also true.
Thomas, the youngest brother, was never married. He died, if memory does
not lack, in the fall of '57. A few years previously he had the
misfortune to break a leg. He told the writer that he was not entirely
recovered from that fracture, and some were of the opinion that his
death was hastened on that account. He was a very popular young man,
quite a favorite with the fair sex and was greatly missed when taken
Amy married John Beachem, who was a good sociable fellow, kind father, a
loving husband and obliging neighbor; but he died at an early age and
his wife was not long in following him. They were considered a handsome
couple. Their daughter was a very fine looking young lady. The writer
never saw her after her mother's death.
Those who knew George Culver will say that a bare mention of his name in
these memoirs is not doing him justice. He was a man will liked by all
-- a strong temperance advocate in practice -- lived according to the
Golden Rule -- but was a little too much inclined to believe that a man
was his friend because he professed to be.
Culver was not a churchman, but was a much better Christian than meny
who make very loud professions. He passed away at the age of
seventy years, or nearly, leaving his wife and sic children, who are all
living. His oldest boy inherited the industry care and economy of his
mother, and is now the owner of the farm previously owned by the late J.
B. Carpenter.Reminiscences of Norfolk:
a Culver that introduced the cheese factory into Norfolk, and it is
quite safe to say that many farms have been imporved and many thousands
of dollars brought into the county on account of that industry. The
breeds of cattle have been vastly improved. Up to the time of the cheese
factory's advent very few of the farmers had any cows bu the native
grades. Now there are many of the Holstein, Jersey, Alderney* and other
To be continued.
Reminiscences of Norfolk County
by G. Berkeley McIntosh