Townsend Pioneers | Back
|The following is a complete transcript of an article which appeared in the 6 Dec 1905 issue of British Canadian newspaper, which reprinted it from an earlier Waterford Star.|
Sketch of the Pioneers of Townsend
These were strenuous days and the tradition of them should not be forgotten, for we should know something of the men who laid the foundations of our settlement and set up the mile posts of progress. So this short sketch may remind us of some of the things that might otherwise be forgotten as the older generation is rapidly passing away.
In the log cabin days, men were their own carpenters, and their tools were sharp axes. Strong arms were needed by these men, who reared the first long cabins in Centreville in the early days of the last century.
George Robinson came from New Jersey in 1821, and settled on the farm now occupied by Joseph Anderson sr.; some came even earlier that this, but about this time many homesteads were taken up. Job Slaght occupied the farm now owned by Mr. Thomas Bannister. James Wymer settled on his property, just east of the village, and still owned by the Wymer family. A man named McCool then occupied the farm now owned by Mr. Wm. Wymer.
Peter and Barzilla Beal settled on land which is now the northwest and southwest corners of the Village of Bealton.
These were the pioneer days before the march of progress brought the sawmill. Then the work of the settler became a little less arduous, and better buildings began to replace those of logs. Mr. Job Slaght erected the first brick house in the settlement and the first in Townsend in 1830.
Many other home seekers came to the new country about this time. The Churchills came from the maritime provinces in 1842. Gilbert and George Saylor came from Ancaster about 1845. John Bradshaw, John Anderson sr., the Arnolds, Osbornes and Wells Hazelton were among these new home seekers.
In 1841 Barzilla Beal erected a sawmill on the site which is still occupied as such, in the same year a frame school house was built occupying the northeast corner of the village. A brick building replaced this in 1856 and again in 1882 the present school building was completed. Mrs. Mary Hayes was employed as the first teacher.
The Weslayan Methodist church was built on land given for that purpose by Mr. Peter Beal about 1850. It was a large frame structure and stood a little to the south of the residence now occupied by Mr. Eli Wymer. It was replaced by the present building in 1890.
About 1871 the residents of the vicinity united in building a Town Hall to be used for a Baptist Sunday School and other religions, moral and scientific purposes.
As early as 1842 a store was opened by part of the home now owned by Mr. Wm. Smith, by Mr. Wells Hazelton, who, a little later, built a store and potash factory near the sawmill, north of the village. Mr. Fazenden also had a store near the site of the present Methodist church, and later his building was moved to occupy the northwest corner of the village, and used as a store by John Osborne, and afterward by a gentleman named Smith.
A wagonmaker called Golden, opened a shop in a building erected for that purpose by Mr. James Wymer. This building has remained a wagonshop for over 50 years and is now occupied by Mr. David Galloway, who has conducted that business for the past 34 years.
Mr. John Barber operated a tannery on his farm on lot 16, west of the village, as early as 1842, and about the year 1848 he started a brickyard, supplying the brick for the Boston church. John Renner's residence, his own dwelling and many others.
He also built and operated the Victoria gristmills northeast of the village about 1870, having obtained surrender of the land for the purpose from the Six Nation Indians, through the Federal Government.
In 1869 Mr. Wm. Parney also operated a brickyard opposite the sawmill on the farm now occupied by Wm. Wymer.
About 1882 Mr. Charles Hazelton operated a brick and tile yard on the bank of the creek, just north of the Methodist church.
Mr. David Phelps started the first blacksmithshop on his farm west of the village. Later this was succeeded by shops, one built by James Wymer on the southeast corner of the village, one by Gains Swift opposite the Hall and one by D. R. Galloway occupying the northeast corner.
Dr. James Osborne opened a medical practice in 1871, having moved from Onondaga for that purpose, and, although he is now 78 years of age, he continues in the practice of his profession.
The village that had thus sprung up along this old pioneer trail seems to have been called "Centerville," by common consent, probably on account of its central position between the early settlements of Boston and Hartford.
About 1856 there was a movement of some of the young people to change the name to Labula, and a flag was prepared at the school house with that name on it, but up till the year 1870 the place continued to be generally known as Centerville, until the advent of the post office in 1869. Then, as there was another Centerville, on the map of Ontario, the postal authorities asked that a new name be selected, and as a result the new name of "Bealton" out of compliment to the Beal family, who were numerous and prominent in the pioneer development.
Mr. Frank Turner was
appointed the first postmaster, and at the beginning of the office the
first letter was posted by Mr. John Barber, Reeve of Townsend, addressed
to Messrs. James Wymer, Robert Davis and Barzilla Beal, congratulating
them on the success of the efforts to secure a post office, and together
they met and read the first letter post marked Bealton. -- Waterford