Welland History .ca

The TALES you probably never heard about

TALES to tell and MUSINGS to mind!

This is where you will find interesting TALES of the various people that lived in and around Welland during the 1800s and 1900s.

We’ve also introduced a new subcategory: HISTORICAL MUSINGS by select featured authors.


[Welland Tribune, 23 April 1897}

Died, in Crowland township, on Tuesday, April 13th, 1897, of lagrippe and peritonitis, Elizabeth, daughter of John and Annie (Wier) Gemmill and relict of the late Robert Robertson, aged 80 years and 2 months. The deceased was born at Cumnock, Ayrshire, near Glasgow, Scotland, on February 14, 1817. The parents and family came to Canada and settled in New Lanark, Ont., during the year 1821, excepting the eldest brother, Andrew, who remained at home and practiced law very successfully in Glasgow for a number of years, reaching a ripe old age. During the year 1842 he came to Canada, when a family reunion was held at Lanark, there being present of the family: The parents, three brothers, six sisters and forty-three grandchildren, our subject being the last one of a family of nine children, all of whom attained their majority.

Having married in 1837, their union was blessed with a family of 13 children, all of whom became of age and married, except two who died in infancy. They removed to this county in November, 1870, settling upon the farm on which she died. Three sons and five daughters still survive: Robert of Lanark, Ont.; Mrs. David Young, Bayonne, N.J.; Mrs. Alex. S. McGregor, London, Ont.; Andrew B., Mrs. M.B. Misener and Mrs. W.D. Misener of Crowland township; Wm. And Mrs. George Stark, Port Robinson, Ont. Also 29 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

The funeral took place on the Thursday following, being largely attended. Burial beside her husband at Doan’s ridge cemetery. The TRIBUNE joins in heartfelt sympathy of the whole community, in which the deceased will long be remembered for her Christian example as exemplified in such a peaceful and quiet ending of useful and upright life. She had loved her allotted time and was only awaiting the call to him in whom she had always trusted. The pallbearers were: Alex Reid, Courtland Carl, Harmon H. Kottmeier, Jas. W. Vanalstine, Jno. W. Hagar and Wm. Everingham. Rev. Mr. Grey of Merritton conducting the service.


[Welland Tribune, 23 April 1897]

Matthew Overholt, the subject of this sketch, was born at Fonthill, April 11, 1813, on the farm now owned and occupied by his son Dexter. His ancestry were of German extraction, having emerged from Germany to the United States when that country was still a dependency of the British crown; his grandfather, Abram, a U.E. Loyalist, coming direct to the future location of Fonthill from Pennsylvania, during the struggle for independence of the thirteen original States. He received from the crown a homestead of 700 acres. Most of this land is still in the possession of his descendants. Some has passed into other hands. The deceased, however, by hard work and strict economy managed not only to retain his inheritance but to buy out a number of his co-heirs. Suitable buildings have been erected from time to time, and the property otherwise so improved as to place it today among the finest and most valuable in this vicinity.

Mr. Overholt was twice married. On May 13th, 1834 to Miss Elizabeth Winger of Stevensville. After sharing each other’s joys and sorrows during six years of an industrious and prosperous married life, the angel of death entered the home and bore away to her reward the dearest earthly treasure of the sorrowing husband and grief stricken children. The two daughters resulting from this union-one afterwards married to W. Bradley, teacher, the other to Chas. Sisler, farmer, Gainsboro-have long since followed their mother to the eternal home of the righteous.

After a period of nearly two years, Mr. Overholt was again untied in wedlock-this time to Miss Hannah Fulsom of Caister, on the 15th of May, 1842. For early rising, hard work, thrift and economy, Mrs. Overholt has not been surpassed by her husband. To her good management and unflinching perseverance may much of his success in life be attributed. By a long life of industry, aided by his equally industrious wife, he succeeded in accumulating a large share of this world’s goods than falls to the lot of the average man. Mr. O. was never a speculator, his estate representing either so much hard labor or interest.

He leaves a widow, well provided for, and two children, Dexter D’Everardo, now in possession of and residing on the old homestead, and Eliza M., wife of Dr. Shupe, Bridgeburg, Ont.

About fifty years ago Mr. Overholt assisted by his own hands, as also financially, in building the first Baptist chapel in Fonthill. He was also one of the then few spiritual props upon which the success of the good cause depended. With the Master’s work in general, and the Baptist church in particular, his interests have ever since been identified. For many years a deacon, in October ’95, being too feeble to attend to the active duties of the office, he was made an honorary deacon, so continued until the summons; “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter ye into the joy of thy Lord,” summoned his spirit away to his glorified and eternal home, which crowning blessing to a useful and completed life took place April 12th, at the age of 84 years and one day.

In the death of our departed friend Fonthill loses its oldest resident, deceased having resided here during the whole period of his life, the reform cause a life-long supporter, the Baptist church a strong pillar, and the community a useful citizen.

Interment in Fonthill burying ground on Thursday, April 15th. The funeral was largely attended, many relatives and friends from a distance, together with his more immediate neighbors, coming in to show their last sad respects to their departed friend and brother.

Rev. Mr. St. Dalmas officiated, preaching a very appropriate and eloquent sermon from the words, “Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.” We shall meet again.


[Welland Tribune, 23 April 1897]

Martha, wife of Asa Howell, formerly of Welland, died at their residence, 227 Fifteenth street, Buffalo, on April 12th, aged 62 years. Deceased leaves a husband; two sons, James and Asa Howell, Jr.; and five daughters-Mrs.Hoffman, Mrs. Howell, Mrs. Pannebaker, Mrs. Corbett and Mrs. Vosburgh. Deceased was also a sister of Mr. Harmon Dutcher, Welland. The funeral took place on Thursday, 15th inst., and was largely attended.



[Welland Tribune, 23 April 1897]

The Police Court officials have been enjoying their Easter holidays, but business is on again at the old stand…John Abner Crysler and David Crysler have laid an information charging Jas. Dougherty of Allanburg with taking chickens from their premises in the early hours of last Saturday morning. The matter will be investigated next Monday before Squire Hellems….John Hines who was arrested by Officer Mains of the Ontario Police, is awaiting trial on the charge of having killed a horse belonging to Mr. Potter, a resident of Pelham, and which is noted elsewhere. Hines was arraigned on Tuesday and remanded for a week, no evidence being taken. The case promises to be a very interesting one.



[Welland Telegraph, 1904/05]


Was born in Hay Township, Huron County, on July 19, 1859, the son of John Gross, who is still living at the age of 80 years.  His grandfather, Jacob Gross,  was a German, and settled in Lincoln County in 1818. Mr. Gross studied law with W, M. German, M.P. and in 1897 was called to the bar. As a Liberal standard bearer he twice carried Welland County, being elected in 1900 and 1902. Mr. Gross is a member of the English Church. -Welland Telegraph 1904/05


Beloved Civic Official Succumbs to Complications Following Pneumonia Attack


Was Long and Honored Figure of City and County Public Life

[The Welland Evening Tribune, 28 January 1928]

J.F. Gross has passed away.

And that means the going on of a man long identified with the public life of this city and of the county of Welland, a member of the old guard of the Liberal party, and an outstanding figure hereabouts for many years. In March of last year, Mr. Gross while on a trip to the Pacific coast was stricken with pneumonia at Vancouver, and there lay for a long period. He was brought home in August, and has since been confined to his home on Division street, this city, where death came to him Friday night at ten o’clock.

Hope of ultimate recovery ebbed and flowed from time to time. In the afternoon of yesterday he fell asleep and so slept his life away. It was a peaceful end of a life well spent, and one whose memory will long live in this city and the surrounding county-a life of which it may well be set down that the definition of Chesterfield applies: “That a gentleman has ease without familiarity, is respectful without meanness; genteel without affectation, insinuating without seeming art.” For J.F. Gross was such.

Like his father, John Gross, one of the pioneers of Welland, John Franklin Gross was born in Clinton township, his natal day being July 19, 1859.

The founder of the family here in Canada was Jacob Gross, a native of Bucks county, Pennsylvania, who came to the dominion about the year 1818 and settled in that township. The father of the dead man came to Welland in 1872 and established one of the first industrial enterprises of the then village, a manufactory of pumps, in which the son was for some time associated following a number of years spent in the teaching profession.

Starts Career In Law

J.F. Gross then entered the office of W. F. German as a student of law, graduated at Osgoode Hall and was called to the bar on October 20, 1897, when he established his practice here in the city, in which of late years his only son, Douglas D. Gross has been associated.

He early entered political life and in 1897 was elected a member of the provincial house, serving as representative from Welland for two terms under the Ross government. In his first election, he was successful over the late Wm. McCleary of Thorold, and in his second contest he defeated the late Henry Cronmiller of Port Colborne.

In 1913 Mr. Gross was appointed city solicitor and he held the office up to his death, although the active duties have been for some time carried on by his son. He was also solicitor for the township of Thorold and has served other municipalities of the county at various times.

It was often said of Mr. Gross that no barrister in the province was better equipped in the knowledge of municipal law.

He married Clara Amelia Casper who survives him, and who was the daughter of Orin Casper, an old resident of the town. The marriage was contracted some 44 years ago.

The funeral will be held from the home, 220 Division street, Tuesday afternoon at 2.30 o’clock.

Dr. Robert Hamel de la Matter (1824-1899)

Dr. Robert Hamel de la Matter (1824-1899)

[Compiled by ‘S’]

Robert was born March 18, 1824 on the south side of Tice Road near Centre Street in Pelham. The original home was destroyed  by fire

The de la Matters were originally French Hugenots. The family name was spelled several ways.

Claude de Maistre was the first to emigrate to America, settling in New Amsterdam (New York) on Long Island in 1652. His family was raised in what is now Harlem. He was a successful farmer.

Martin de la Mater, father of Robert was a rebel sympathizer at the time of the American Revolution, afterward he immigrated to Canada.

Martin first settled in Canborough and on November 3, 1818 he married Sabina Smith, one of the daughters of Matthew and Mary (Wright) Smith. Matthew Smith was a prominent farmer, millwright and entrepreneur of Canborough.

Martin and Sabina de la Matter had eight children, five were born in Canborough, Cyrus, Ryan A., Eben J, Cornelia and Smith.

Three more were born after they moved to Pelham Ferrand, Peter Morse and Martin.

In 1828 the family located on 200 acres in Pelham on Tice Road.

Sabina died February 10, 1835, then, Martin married Mary Magdalene Vanderburgh born June 20, 1806 she was the daughter of Garret and Catherine Vanderburgh, who lived on a farm in Allanburg, a loyalist grant.

Sabina’s children Ryan, Ferrand and Martin all died in infancy. Cyrus, Eben, Smith and Peter received their education at common schools in Pelham and learned the farm trade here. However they all left Pelham went to the United States and farmed in the Midwest states of Illinois and Iowa.

The children of Martin’s second marriage were Sabina, Henry, Ira, Robert H., Isaac, Mary Emily and Francis Elizabeth.

Martin and Mary Delamatter became prominent members of the Pelham community. Martin was a Officer of the local Militia during the Mackenzie rebellion of 1837. He had one of his barns burned because of the commission.

He was a trustee of the Fonthill Wesleyan Methodist Church and one of the trustees involved in the purchase of land for the North Pelham Cemetery. In 1845.

Martin and Mary sent all of their children to local schools in Pelham and their sons went to university.

Sabina married a lawyer, Alisha Morse and lived in Smithville. Henry was a successful teacher, teaching at Fonthill Grammar School. He also was principal of Welland High School. Also taught in schools in Owen Sound, Wiarton, Colborne, and Williamsville, New York.

Henry married Maria Blaghorne and they had eight children. He died in Toronto after being blind for several years.

Ira graduated from Victoria College in Cobourg, where he was a prize winning essayist. He became a teacher in Fonthill and ran the family farm in Pelham.

Isaac was a trained lawyer, he contracted tuberculosis and died on an overland route to California, at a military post, three weeks after his marriage.

Robert attended Hansler school and the grammar school in Fonthill. He entered the University of Toronto where graduated with a B.A. degree in 1868, receiving a silver medal. He then entered Faculty of Medicine and obtained an M.D degree in 1871, winning a silver medal.

After graduation Robert interned in a hospital on Statten Island, New York. He then moved to Fonthill and practiced with Dr. J. Fraser.

Dr Robert Delamatter then left Fonthill and practiced in Springfield, Ohio and Buffalo , New York before establishing himself in Attercliffe where he resided until his death in 1899.

Robert married a school teacher, Janet Henderson and their daughter Elizabeth Magdalena became a latin teacher at Pelham District High School.

The Delamatter residence is still standing on the south side of Canboro road at the west end of the Attercliffe village.

According to his daughter , the doctor did not have regular office hours, people came to the house at any time. House calls were made on horseback or horse and buggy. He referred surgical patients to Dr G.A. MacCallum of Dunnville. This was the man whose son, William MacCallum became a professor of Pathology at John Hopkins Medical School and wrote a textbook on the subject.

Dr Robert Delamatter died following a stroke in 1899. He is buried at the Riverside cemetery in Wellandport along with his wife Janet and Daughter Elizabeth.

His tombstone can be located on this website  Gallery—cemeteries- Riverside Pt 1 section 7.


[Welland Tribune, 23 April 1897]

Mrs. Anna B. Motley, wife of Jay Motley, Shotwell street, died at 7 o’clock on Friday morning last, leaving a husband and family of three small children to mourn her untimely death. Mrs. Motley had been complaining of a pain in the head for some weeks, which was followed by a severe attack of lagrippe. The disease finally reached the brain and death from meningitis ensued. Deceased’s maiden name was Pettigrew. The remains were taken to her old home near Canfield on Saturday morning for interment on the following day. Mr. Motley and his helpless family of little ones has the sympathy of the community.


[Welland Tribune, 30 April 1897]

Died, at his late residence in the township of Gainsboro, April 18, 1897, Cyrus Robins, of heart failure, which for many years had rendered his life more or less unpleasant, and death a long expected calamity that became a sad reality in the early hours of Easter Sunday-a day well-befitting the occasion of the death of one whose exemplary life and Christian integrity had served to stamp upon the minds of his acquaintances an image which the hand of time cannot efface. To the church of his adoption {Canada Methodist} he was a living epistle, read and known of all men. He had no fear of death, at the very door of which he could exclaim: “Oh, death where is thy sting; oh, grave where is thy victory!” “May my last end be like his!” And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors and their works do follow them.”  The subject of his obituary was born in the township of Wainfleet in 1834. His birthplace was approximate to the scene of his demise. His wife, previous to their marriage, was Miss Huldah Putman (daughter of the late Albert Putman of Wainfleet), who with seven sons and daughters survive him, as follows: Orlando, Amos P. and Mrs. Wm. Goss of Gainsboro; Alvin A. and Mrs. Cyrus H. Brown of Pelham; also Cyrus E. and Mrs. N.F. Johnson of Wainfleet. In politics Mr. Robins was a staunch Liberal, but always willing to accord due regard for the opinions of those whose views of the situation placed them in the ranks of his opponents. He served his municipality more than a score of years as councillor and deputy-reeve, with few intermissions, having been elected almost continuously during that time. His funeral, at Salem church on the 20th inst., was largely attended. His friends in the locality where his whole life had been spent were legion, his enemies few. This terminates the life of a kind father, a faithful and affectionate husband, until the last trump of God shall sound to call forth the dead from their graves to judgment. We will all be there.



[Welland Tribune, 30 April 1897]

Early on Tuesday morning as August Thomas was going along the road running east and west past William Hixon’s farm on Thorold township. He was startled to discover the body lying in the ditch by the roadside. There was only about 18 inches of water in the ditch, and the man’s body lay on his back in it, his head being a few inches under water. The man was dead. The body was recognized as that of a tramp who had been about Port Robinson the day before. In fact he had passed through Port during the past two summers, but no one knew his name. His tracks had led from Mr. Hixon’s barn, and it is supposed after passing the night there he had come out on the road very early in the morning and had been seized with a fit or paralysis and had fallen into the water, either dying from the effects of the fit or being drowned whilst insensitive under the stroke. The case was referred to Coroner Cumines who did not consider an inquest necessary.

The body was that of a man of about 70 years of age, apparently well nourished, but poorly dressed. Rather a heavy built man; with sandy complexion. He had two sticks with him, one of which had belonged to a piece of machinery in Mr. Hixon’s barn. The sticks he used to assist in walking, being slightly lame. There was no money found upon his person, nor anything by which the man might be identified, and the body was sent to the Toronto school of anatomy.


Brain Trouble Carries Off the Well-known Methodist Minister

[Hamilton, Spectator, April 9]

[Welland Tribune, 16 April 1897]

Rev. James VanWyck, B.A., died last evening after a brief illness, aged fifty-one years. He had not been in his usual good health for some months, but it was only ten days ago that he was forced to take to bed. From the first the doctors held out little or no hope of his recovery. He became unconscious some days ago, and never rallied, and the end came at the hour stated. Tubercular meningitis was the cause of death. Mr. VanWyck had enjoyed unusually good health all his life. In his pulpit address he frequently expressed gratitude that he had never, in all his somewhat lengthy ministerial career, been forced through ill-health to neglect his church duties, and his complete collapse, in view of his strong constitution, is surprisingly and startling sudden.

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