Jonathan Doan was a
descendant of a Dutchman who came to Pennsylvania perhaps over 200
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Away back in the early days
when Doan's Hollow was a lively place, there was a tavern kept by
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
The first road connecting
Port Dover and Simcoe ran through 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).