Re: -- Doan's Hollow History
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On 29 Oct 2016, site visitor Linda Feere of Doan's Hollow snail mailed us a copy of an article from the 30 May 1974 issue of the Port Dover Maple Leaf newspaper. 
This is our lighted edited transcription of that article.


Doan's Hollow History
Spans 200 year period

Jonathan Doan was a descendant of a Dutchman who came to Pennsylvania perhaps over 200 years ago. 
He was a Quaker and a bible student. He had seven sons and of these Elijah Doan, who was born in 1783 and died in 1865, was the pioneer settler of Doan's Hollow.

In 1783-84 there was trouble among the old Dutch families along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers, and some then settled along the Niagara frontier. Among others Jonathan Doan and his family had to abandon their home. They settled at Black Rock with their infant son Elijah, then about four months old.

In 1805 father and son (tanners by trade) hearing of the hemlock farther up the north shore of Lake Erie, moved the entire family by boat, landing at Kettle Rock near Port Stanley. There they thrived and prospered.

In the winter of 1808, Elijah Doan again ventured out by boat and landed in Port Dover at the mouth of the Lynn River. Following the course of the river through the forests in search of a suitable location for a home and tannery, he purchased a strip of land from William Park, who had a settlement of 400 acres in a valley on the banks of the River Lynn three miles from it's mouth.

Hewing a small clearing by a spring which led to the stream he built a log cabin, in the same year 1808, returning to Niagara Falls he married Esther Winters and brought her to his cabin nesting in the forest amidst the hills.

They had 10 children -- Benjamin, James, Eliza, George, Katherine, William, Emmanuel and Jonathan (two died). Soon after this marriage he built a blacksmith shop in which he made nails for use in building his frame house.

In 1815 he bought part of the Clergy Reserve, paying a dollar an acre.

Becoming skilled in many tasks, farming, tanning, blacksmithing, Elijah Doan fought his way through much discouragement to comfort.

One evil they were spared -- no hostile red men lurked around them as the Mohawk Chief, Joseph Brant has secured lots of land on the Grand River from the government body for his tribesmen who then lived in peace with the settlers.

The worst enemy they had was the prowling bear, wolf or wildcat. Deer as well as other furbearing animals abounded in the wood. The skins of these wild animals were tanned and sold for many purposes.

The modern house built in 1816 (destroyed by fire in 1896) was a frame structure made like the New England homes. They had an old-fashioned pulley well from which to get water.

Down the lane through an avenue of orchards was the spring which gave power to the water wheel to run the tannery and distillery on the west side. Whisky was distilled for medicinal purposes; it was sold to doctors and druggists but when Elijah Doan found that it's use had a demoralizing affect, the distillery was torn down and machinery scattered.

Elijah Doan died at the close of the civil war (clinging steadfastly to the Universalist Creed), having abounded in the faith of is fore-fathers in the 17th century. 

His body rested for many years in the small graveyard at the northwest corner of the farm. This reservation was presented to William Park and the Walkers to the public as a burying ground in 1800, before Elijah bought the farm. 

In 1880 Elijah's body was removed to the Port Dover cemetery and rests there beside the grave of his wife. Two of his sons, James and Emmanuel, and one daughter, Ellen [sic], established homes in this valley.

James Doan married Martha Potts. They had nine children. He bought land on the north side of the road, built a tannery by the stream which came from a spring on the southern hillside. He built a nine-room brick house. He and his son carried on the tanning and farming until 1900.

This family prospered and the well-kept home overlooking the pond, surrounded by the green valley and hills was the envy of everyone on the hillside for many years. The spring was the water supply for the residents of Port Dover.

(At the time of the writing of this historical narrative, George Verhoeven owns the farm now on which  the waterworks are found. The village of Port Dover purchased the water rights of the spring and erected a large dam at the stream about 1923-24.)

Emmanuel Doan, who married Katherine DeCou, moved to the homestead shortly after Elijah's death. The had 10 children -- John Henry, Mary Esther, Frederick, Edith, Wallace, etc. Three died. Emmanuel Doan ran the tannery for a time but finally gave it up, confining himself to the improvement of his farm.

Eliza Doan, who married John Anderson, lived many years upon the homestead lands. 

Jonathan Doan carried on farming in Walsingham Township. His descendant still live in that locality on well-cultivated farms.

Wallace Doan died.

Augusta married Charles Richardson.

In 1869 Mary Esther married Charles Toms. They lived on a farm near Simcoe and had a family of six [sic], which are scattered over Canada and the USA.

Fred Doan acquired the homestead and clergy reserve farm. He bought the James Doan farm in 1896, moving into the brick house and living there until his death in 1920.

Mary Esther's sister Edith had two children, Charles and Catharine Thompson. When Edith died, these two children were cared for by their grandmother (Catherine Doan), and they cared for her until her death in March 1910.

Charles Thompson, one of the 11th generation since the days of the pilgrims, fell heir to the land purchased from the clergy reserve. Later he bought the site of the old homestead and with his family farmed, continuing the work of his heroic sire, Elijah Doan.

Charles Thompson married Clarissa Fowler of Woodstock and they had three children: Albert, Elva (Mrs. Earl Riechheld) and Lola (Mrs. Donovan Thompson). In 1938 Charles and his wife moved to the village of Port Dover, leaving the homestead in the hands of his son, Albert.

Albert was married in 1939 to Mabel Meade of Nanticoke, and they had two children, Wayne and Linda. In 1967 Albert moved to Port Dover and Wayne remained on the farm.

Wayne is married to Lois Bush of Port Dover, and they have three children, Shelley, Vickie and Charles, who are the 14th generation on the same farm.

Early Public Buildings

Away back in the early days when Doan's Hollow was a lively place, there was a tavern kept by Justice Blakely.

Closer to the creek upon the same corner as the tavern there once stood a building known as Dellar's Pumpshop. All kinds of wood turning was done there.

Passing through the Hollow [today] at the intersection of the roads known as the "corners," you will notice upon the south-west corner an embankment which is the remains of the old dam across the trout stream. Just back of the bank is a depression in the earth in which an old water wheel once upon a time revolved, for this was the location of a pioneer grist mill erected by the Doan's and DeCou's.

Just west of the mill stood the residence and shoe shop of Robert Passmore. He was buried in the little graveyard and a wooden slab was erected.

The harness shop was located about 300 yards west of the shoe shop.

Another early building was Peter MacKay's oatmeal mill, which was changed into a flour mill (called Pepper Mills). It is still standing and it is used for making cider now (on Lynn Waddle's farm.)

There used to be an iron foundry on Waddle's farm. Iron stoves and kettles were made in the foundry.

The first road connecting Port Dover and Simcoe ran through Doan's Hollow.

Schools of Doan's Hollow

The first schoolhouse, built of logs, was near the graveyard. The first teacher was Mr. Godspeed from St. Thomas. He was paid for his services in wheat. 

This school was 18 feet by 23 feet, with a huge fireplace and chimney occupying the end of the room opposite the door. On the side wall an augur had bored and long pins inserted on which were placed boards as desks. The seats were slabs from the saw-mill, with holes bored in them and pegs inserted for legs, and on these, facing the walls the scholars were seated. The three R's were the only studies. This schoolhouse burned down.

The second schoolhouse was erected in the graveyard and was also used as a church.

The third structure was a government school built in 1883 upon land presented by Eber DeCou along the roadway at the foot of the southern hill -- the site of the brick schoolhouse with its large shaded playgrounds and coasting hill, known at SS No. 2 Woodhouse.

Three Doan descendants taught in the third school: Annabel Anderson (daughter of Eliza Doan), Arthur Anderson (grandson of Eliza Doan) and Augusta Doan (youngest daughter of Emmanuel Doan).

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Copyright 2016 Linda Feere and John Cardiff