Welland History .ca

The TALES you probably never heard about


[Welland Tribune, 18 November 1887]

The long list of old and prominent residents of the county who have recently passed over to the majority has been supplemented the past week in the demise of the late Adelaide H., wife of James Harmon Price, Esq., of Welland. Mrs. Price was a daughter of the late Lewis and Susan (Hull) Wilson of Pelham, and a grand daughter of late Major Hull. She enjoyed the acquaintance and esteem of a very large circle of friends. The funeral took place on Tuesday, services by Friend Nicholson, assisted by Rev. Wray Smith; interment at Fonthill. The attendance was very large.

Died: 16 November 1887

Thomas Ray

[History of Welland County Ontario, 1887]

Thomas Ray, contractor, bridge builder and farmer, Pelham township, was born in the city of York, England, October 11th,1833. His father, John, was born in  Yorkshire, February 15th, 1806, followed agricultural pursuits until 1824. was then appointed an official in a lunatic asylum called the Friends’ Retreat, where he remained four years. Thinking he could better his prospects, he gave up his situation, and in 1828 came to America, where he remained eighteen months. Returning to England, he was re-appointed to his former position, holding it for seventeen years, when the favorable impression of Canada, produced by his former visit, induced him again to give up his place and return, bringing with him his wife (Elizabeth Elliott) and family in 1845. He settled in the township of Pelham, purchasing a farm for $8.00 per acre. He was twice elected to the Pelham township council. The grandparents of our subject were Thomas and Hannah (West) Ray. Our subject was raised to farm life, but at the age of sixteen years engaged in mechanical pursuits, for which he has a natural genius. His talent for construction led him early to engage in contracting for the building of the numerous bridges over the Chippawa river. He has built and re-built the following: O’Reilley’s bridge, first in 1869, rebuilt in 1880; Montrose, a swing bridge, in 1872; Beckett’s repaired some years ago, and built new in 1885, an iron structure; Tisdale’s, wooden bridge, 1881; Robins’ bridge,1881; and the Wellandport iron bridge, in 1883. Mr Ray  married March 23rd, 1859, Elizabeth, a daughter of Jesse Wilson and granddaughter of Jesse Wilson and Benjamin Martin, the latter at an early date the occupier of the land  on which the court house now stands, in the town of Welland. The family of Mr Ray consists of two daughters, Clara and Bertie. He is enterprising and energetic, and is well calculated to make his way in the world.

Robert Chambers

[History of Welland County Ontario, 1887]

Robert Chambers, farmer, Candasville P.O., was born in the township of Wainfleet, April 28th, 1842. His parents were Robert and Agnes(Robinson) Chambers. His maternal grandfather was a native of Ireland. Mr Robert Chambers has always followed farming. He is now possessor of the farm on which his father settled. When it was in a state of wilderness, about the year 1826. This farm is now very valuable. It consists of two hundred acres of choice land, situated along the Welland river. Mr Chambers is an enterprising as well as an intelligent farmer, and is highly esteemed by the community in which he lives, as a proof of which he was elected to a seat at the council board of his native township in 1856. He was also secretary-treasurer of his school section three years. He was married October 1st, 1879, to Lucinda, a daughter of Daniel and Harriet (Nunn) Robins both of whom were born in the township of Gainsboro, Lincoln County. Our subject’s family consists of three children Elma, Levi, and Ada Lilian.

A LONG TIME AGO – 11 November 1887

 Editor Tribune:- My letter in your issue of Oct. 7 spoke of Mr. and Mrs. Fawcet, the newly married couple whose respective ages were about 65 years, and who were spending their honeymoon on board ship during the voyage to Quebec in the year 1828. I said I might take them up again, which I now do in an abridged way.

Mr. Fawcet had been in Canada before, and had there married a second wife, after which he returned to England, leaving wife No. 2 behind. Mr. F. was a great professor of piety, which enabled him the better to carry his points. Wishing again to return to Canada, but being minus the means, he thought it expedient to fall in love with an old lady about his own age, who, with her hired help, was making a comfortable living in conducting a laundry business in the city of York, England, and, with her little savings and household effects, could furnish the means of shipment to Canada. So he married wife No. 3, and these are the parties mentioned in my first letter. Upon their arrival at Brockville in May, 1828, Mrs. F. No. 3 found a Mrs. F. No. 2 and Mrs. F. No. 3 not being a convert to Mormon faith, deserted her liege lord and master, and hired to a respectable family by the name of McDonald to do housework for one dollar a week. This family were very kind to her. After working for them over a year, they paid her all her wages, made her a present of twelve dollars and other things, and she left for Quebec in the hope of getting a passage back to England, which at that time was much more difficult than now, as there were no more regular passenger ships. The only chance was by a lumber ship, and that was difficult for a lone woman. A man could berth with the sailors in the forecastle, or with the captain in the cabin.

But upon her arrival at Quebec she was taken ill with the fever and confined to her bed several weeks. The expenses incurred took most of her money. When she had so far recovered as to be able to walk out a little in the street, one day she met a military officer. Her English dress and flour-scoop bonnet attracted his attention and he looked very intently upon her, so much so that after passing she turned to look after him, when he had done the same to look at her; he then came up to her and said: “My good woman, I did look at you for there is something in your appearance I could not help doing so; may I ask who you are, or where are you from?” “My name is Mrs. Fawcet, and I am from the city of York, in England, but when in England my name was Mrs. Jib.” “Yes, that accounts for it. When I was a little boy I used to come with our nursemaid to your house on Bishophill after linen.” “Indeed, sir, and what is your name, sir?” “My name is Crompton.” “Good Lord, are you young Master Crompton?” After learning a little of her history, the street and number where to find her, he said he would call, which he did, and brought her a bottle of wine. He learned her history; how she had come there; interested himself in her behalf, secured her a passage to Hull; gave her a letter to Mrs. Crompton, his mother, wishing her to give her some of the furniture lying in the garret of their big house in Micklegate, and otherwise to assist her in establishing herself in her former business; all of which was done, and when I called upon her a short time afterwards I found her not in the same house she had left on her marriage with Fawcet, but in the next house to it, with two hired girls and the necessary apparatus for carrying on her former business, and this account I had from herself. What became of Mr. F. I never learned.

Welland Tribune

11 November 1887

A LONG TIME AGO – 4 November 1887


             In passing up Pearl street I saw a person of Friendly appearance on the opposite side, and I crossed over to meet him. I said, “Excuse me; I am a stranger in New York , having come into the city only yesterday, and seeing your appearance was that of a Friend, I wished to speak to you and ask your advice where I should likely to find lodgings for a week or two where I should not be annoyed with bed bugs.” He looked at me with a critical eye, wondering, I suppose, what new kind of a sharper he had met with. He asked where I came from. I said, England last year, had worked for a Friend on Young street, last summer, in Canada. I knew if he was a Friend, either Hicksite or Orthodox, he would know something about Friends up Young street, as that had been a seat of war between two bodies of Friends that year-1828. He said, “Did thee know Nicholas Brown?” “Yes.” “And Margaret Brown, his wife?” These two Friends were leading characters on the Hicksite side of the division, to which, as I afterwards found, he belonged. He appeared to be satisfied and said, “Walk along with me while I think.” After a little he said, “Stand here.” He crossed the street, rung a bell and entered. In a few minutes he beckoned me over, and led me into a little parlor where was sitting an elderly lady Friend and her daughter. The Friend said, “My Friend informs me thee wishes to obtain lodgings, and where thee won’t be annoyed with bed bugs; we can accommodate thee. For transient boarders we charge four dollars a week; for permanent boarders, three.” “I don’t object providing there is no bed bugs.” She said, “I guarantee there is not, and as thee had no sleep last night, perhaps thee would like to lay down and thee shall be called for dinner,” which was done.

             At dinner were some 15 or 20 boarders-men above my class-merchants, doctors, lawyers and writers, but all appeared to have a fair share of Yankee inquisitiveness to know as much about the new comer and in as little time as possible. I answered their questions in simple, honest truth, which went to show I was only a farmer boy, had worked in Canada for eight dollars a month &c., and was on my return trip to England. And let me say I seldom met with more social and kindly treatment than from most of these gentlemen, which was shown in various ways. When the day came that I should go on board the ship Florida for Liverpool, one gentleman said, “No!” I said the captain told me to be on board that afternoon or lose my passage. He said he knew all about that; the ship would anchor off Sandy Hook that evening; they would be all confusion; that a steamer would leave White Hall dock about 7 tomorrow morning, to take the cabin passengers and I should go then, and he would go and see me off, and if I did not go he would make good all damages, which he did, and I went with the cabin passengers. In this ship we steerage passengers had to find our own board. I had laid in a stock as I thought sufficient for five weeks for myself. Meeting a young man on the ship at New York who was a passenger by here to Liverpool, I proposed as we should have to berth two in a berth we had better join our stock of provisions together, which he approved of. When the voyage commenced he was sick to begin with, and I had to do the cooking. He lay in the berth, except when he saw me come down with the grub he was ready to do his share of the eating, after which he retired to his berth to moan and pray, for every time the ship struck a wave or made a lurch he (Moore) cried, “Oh Lord!” We had head winds and after three weeks sailing were not half way across the ocean, and my provisions nearly done, of which we had been using all this time. I asked him to fetch his out. He said he had none, as he did not have any money to buy with, so we had to go on short allowance the rest of the voyage,- the only time in my life I knew what it was to be hungry and have nothing to eat. There is no doubt but if had made our case known to the captain we should have been helped, but pride prevented my doing so. It was the practice at that time on that ship to allow the sailors a certain quantity of grog each day, and one old sailor (Jimmie) got drunk every day so as to be unfit for duty. They took his grog off. He still got drunk. They then took away his own private stock of liquor and made him stay down below; when one night about nine o’clock a passenger said there was a man overboard, which was not believed as all the sailors and passengers were there. The passenger insisted that he saw a man go over the ship’s side, that he heard a splash, that he then looked but could see nothing. The ship was sailing slowly. The captain ordered six men into the jolly boat to go back in the ship’s wake, which was done. In about an hour the boat returned. The ship’s speed had been slackened. “Did you see anything?” “Yes, sir.” “What was it? Old Jimmie. Have you got him?” “Yes, sir.” “What did he say?” “He said we need not have been at so much trouble, he should have come up with us tomorrow.” Jimmie had delirium tremens.

             Another curiosity we had on board in the shape of a little Irishman, whom we called Jimmie Ducks. Jimmie had hid himself away in some part of the ship when leaving New York, and three days after leaving New York showed himself upon deck. As there was no way for sending him back, he was installed in office to administer to the wants of the ducks, chickens, turkeys and a cow we had to give milk. The steward having cause to suspect Jimmie’s treachery in regard to the cow, watched him, and one morning caught him in the act of milking the cow into his mouth, and gave him such a toeplating as I never saw anyone get before or since. I asked Jimmie how he got to New York. His mother had given him £4 to pay the rent with, but instead of doing so he bought a ticket for America. “What will your mother say when she sees you?” “Indade, an she’ll be too pleased to see me to say anything about it.” Jimmie being the most likely object on board for the cabin passengers to bestow their charity upon, by giving away what they did not wish to take on shore, they gave him many old clothes and an old horse pistol, which he tied up in a big bundle. It so attracted the attention of the Liverpool police that they arrested him and placed him in the lockup until he proved how he came by them.

             We arrived in Liverpool after a passage of thirty-six days.


Welland Tribune

4 November 1887

A LONG TIME AGO – 28 October 1887


                It was at Newmarket I received my first letter from friends in England three months ago after writing them my address. Postiers did not pass as quickly then as now, and the postage on a letter then was twenty-five cents. It cost five times the money and took four times the time to send a letter to England it does now, My time being up here, and, although I had several offers of eleven dollars a month, I decided to visit the United States. My good old Mrs. Martha Linville put me up a small knapsack of grub, and I started for Little York (Toronto) and thence by steamboat to Niagara. But when in York I saw in a window an advertisement of peppermint for sale, and thinking it might be good in case of seasickness on the lake, I bought a three-half-pint bottle full, and feeling some sick on the lake I tasted it for the first time. It was only whiskey flavored with peppermint. I had not as yet drunk any whiskey and I found it more likely to produce sickness than to cure it. From Fort Niagara to Youngs town crossed the Niagara River on a ferry boat worked by two horses upon deck. Four Indian women crossed at same time. They were greatly amused at one of the horses kicking, which the driver made him do for amusement. Landed at Youngstown, for the first time in my life I was in a foreign country. In walking to Lewiston, six miles, I saw many fine apples and peaches hanging over the road, but, being in a foreign land, I felt timid, and durst not do more than look at them, a delicacy I soon found out was but little observed in that country at the time. While sitting on the balcony of the hotel at Lewiston I heard for the first time the roar of Niagara Falls. I asked what that noise was. The parties asked were were so accustomed to it that it was difficult for them to bear it. At three in the morning I was called up to take the stage east. The stage was a large covered carriage, three seats in the middle, one having a broad leather strap for back hold; had four horses. The roads were very rough; the springs so springy as to cause myself and an old gentleman and his daughter to sometimes come together on the leather strap. Arrived at Lockport; there took my first breakfast in Yankee town, and my first lesson in quick eating. I had only got well prepared to begin when they began to leave the table. Out of over twenty, myself and an old toothless gentleman were the last, I left the stage at Johnson’s Creek, 12 miles east of Lockport. Next day I hired to a widow lady and her son, for eleven dollars a month for two months, to help do up the fall work on a farm, and here I had a good time. David, the son, 18 years old, and I got along splendidly. The old lady went on a visit to New York and left David and I to keep house, which we did in an improved style. She had left a three gallon jug full of excellent metheglin, and upon her return it had become empty. She inquired of David, “What has become of my metheglin?”  “Thy metheglin, mother, why, what did thee want with metheglin?” “I wanted it to treat my friends.” “Why, mother, thy friends have got it.” My two months being up, I was about to engage with a lumber man to drive team, when the old lady showed her motherly kindness by giving me her advice. She said, “The winters here are colder then thee has any idea of; thy former habits and thin clothing do not fit thee for that kind of life. Thee had better stop with us through the winter and go to school with David.” I said, “Would you think of boarding me all winter for nothing?” She said they would be glad to have me stop and help David do the chores. The offer was too good to be refused, so I put in about four months schooling in the town of Hartland, and in the spring of 1829 engaged to work on the same farm for twelve dollars a month. But in the summer, being much troubled with toothache, and two doctors having failed to extract the tooth and only broke it off, I resolved to go to New York and try a dentist, and then visit come of the southern states. By the Erie Canal and Hudson River in one week, arrived in New York. I got supper at a restaurant and lodgings close by. I had been in bed but a few minutes when I found more company than was agreeable, so I got into another bed in the same room. The company had either followed me or were already there. I then lay on the floor with no better success. At three in the morning I found my way into the street without disturbing anyone. I had paid for my lodgings the night before. Market gardeners were bringing in vegetables at that time, indeed all night, and leaving them in the market house at Peck’s Slip. As I was likely to have to remain in New York some time, I was anxious to be out of the bug settlement, and sought a new part of the city, where the bugs might not have taken possession, but got tired, so got breakfast and returned.

Welland Tribune

28 October 1887

A LONG TIME AGO – 7 October 1887


PELHAM, Sept., 1887

Friend Editor Tribune:

             I have been a subscriber to your paper since its first publication at Fonthill. How often it has changed its name I do not remember. I have once in a while sent in a short article for publication, and now, in my eighty-second year, undertake to do so again, by giving some reminiscences of travel from England to Canada and the U.S. in the year 1828, or fifty-nine years ago, which will show the change things have taken since that time, as to accommodation and time occupied in travel, and other improvements.

             In 1827, when twenty-one years of age, and when my bat covered my family, and being dependent upon my own exertions for a living and anything more I might possess in this world, I decided to try my fortune in Canada, and in the spring of 1828 I left the city of York for the seaport town of Hull, where several ships were advertised to sail for Quebec, in the lumber trade. I took a passage in the bark Ellergill, 400 tons burden, paid £4, had to board ourselves; might cook at the ship’s galley, a little shanty about 5×6 feet. Our company consisted of twenty-one passengers, women and children, three Leicester sheep, and one yellow dog, which was a nuisance. He was kept chained upon our cargo of sand, which we had for ballast, and kept up a dreadful howling nights. The sand we pitched into the St. Lawrence river when we got there. We had on board an old gentleman about 65 years of age. He had married an old lady about the same age just before embarking. They were spending their honeymoon during the voyage. The old man had married her for what she had, which was chiefly her household furniture which was sold and the proceeds required to pay passage. I boarded with them and had a great sympathy for the old woman, believing she had been grossly imposed upon. Their berth and mine were separated by the hanging up of a sheet. The old lady had begun to realize the imposition that had been imposed upon her, and one night undertook to hold a bed of justice with him. She said, “You don’t love me,” when the old villain (as he afterwards proved) made a sort of a move and said,” My dear, I love you as dear as my own life.” It was hard work for me to refrain from telling him he lied, although he was very religious and used to pray with us and exhort us, when we got to Canada where liquor was cheap, to be careful not to give away to drinking. Arriving at Quebec on the Saturday night we could not pass the customs house until Monday; the ship laid at anchor in the river, but Capt. Corbet, a kind-hearted fellow, let a boat take most of us men ashore to go to church. We attended the Methodist church in the morning and saloons the rest of the day, and the old man, Fawcett, set us the example of getting very drunk, and we had quite a time in the evening in getting him into the boat to take back to the ship. He lost his plug hat into the river and it went down with the tide. And here I will leave Mr. Fawcett and his bride, but may take them up again as their history afterwards is of a romantic and interesting character, particularly that of Mrs. Fawcett. On Monday we passed the customs house and a steamer came alongside of us and took off passengers and baggage, also passengers and baggage of two other ships, one Scotch and one Irish, and brought us up to Montreal. But having got a little ahead of my story I must go back. We left Hull on 12th April, had reasonably fine weather. When on the banks of Newfoundland we were becalmed, and the captain gave us leave to fish, and having some large hooks and line, baited with a piece of fat pork and sunk with an old ax head. Caught some 15 or 20 large codfish which was divided amongst the ship’s company, and on the 10th of May, about 9 p.m., when sailing about four miles an hour, we ran into a large field of ice-ice as far as the eye could reach-which made the old ship tremble. We were in our berths and my old friend Fawcett, who had crossed the Atlantic twice before, called out, “We are upon rocks,” and I believed him that time and jumped up to see what chance there was for escape, when a young man (a passenger) was coming down the hatchway. I asked what it is, and he said ice. He afterwards told me he was coming down to get his money out of his chest. I was quickly upon deck and helped to pull the ropes and back the sails, and in four hours we were again clear of the ice, and in six more days arrived at Quebec on the 17th of May, after a passage of five weeks.

             I will now go back to the boat for Montreal. I said we had English, Irish and Scotch on board-such a scene I had not seen before or since; it will not bear description and suffice to say drunkenness and immorality prevailed that night. Arrived at Montreal, I, George Chapman, a Lincolnshire farmer, and his little boy, eleven years old, pursued our journey together. From Montreal to Prescott we took what they called a Durham boat, which was shoved along with poles near the shore, except at the rapids, we were towed by oxen-I think where the Lachine canal now is. We used to leave the boat in the forenoon and walk, getting our board on shore, and take the boat at night- slow mode of travel. From Prescott to Brockville, 12 miles, we undertook to walk, leaving our baggage at Prescott. We should have kept on what is called the river road-in some places it was difficult to tell which was the main road-and we got into the woods, which dark was far from silent; tree toads, frogs and screaming things we did not know what they were, until three in the morning, when we saw lights and made for them. They were log beaps burning. We then found a log house and asked to stay until daylight; answer “No.” We asked for a drink of water. “There’s a well, draw for yourselves.” “No bucket,” the man gave us a nod and shut the door. We arrived in Brockville about 9 on Sunday morning, On Monday I hired to Wm. Ayres, a storekeeper and hat manufacturer; and Chapman hired to a Dutch farmer, 4 miles from Brockville. My business was to take care of a horse and cow, and general workman. My first day ws employed in house cleaning, blacking stove, taking apart bedsteads and killing bed bugs, which were numerous and the first I had seen of that species of insect. There were three Irish servant girls, all as lively as crickets. When night came and I was sitting in the kitchen, one of the girls opened a big box or bunk and stirred up some straw. I thought she was making up a bed for a large Newfoundland dog there was, when she told me that was my berth; she had put on a rug or two. I began to feel indignant, and to think I had left home and civilization. She said: “You can go to bed, John, when you please.” As I had all my life been accustomed to take off my clothes going to bed, I did not feel like departing from that rule even under these circumstances; so I deliberately took off all my clothes, except shirt, and walked across the kitchen floor to my bunk, the three girls all there, one setting sponge, another ironing linen, and Kitty making a pan of gruel for a sick daughter. About ten o’clock the girls began to undress at the end of the kitchen, they jumped in like rabbits, and we all passed the night without molestation. I might give a further description of this place and it novelties, as much is yet clear to my recollection. On the evening of my second day I told Mr. Ayres I thought I should not suit him and had better leave. He thought differently, as Mrs. Ayres had given me an excellent character for proficiency in house cleaning. I left, and went to see my friend Chapman. He said he got along very well with the Dutchman and the work, but some parts of the board surpassed his skill. He would come to Brockville that night, which he and his boy did, and next day we took the steamboat for Little York (Now Toronto). The boat laid to at Kingston all night and next day landed us at Little York, which then had but few sidewalks and no paved or macadamized streets. There was a market place, a garrison for soldiers, and plenty of tavern accommodation. We went to John Montgomery’s tavern on Young street, and as our dress showed our nationality (knee breeches), we were easily recognized as Englishmen, and as many of the settlers at that time were from that country, we were often spoken to and met with considerable kindness. One man coming in with a load of lumber, offered to take us 12 miles up the street when his horses were fed, which he did.

             While waiting in the tavern at York, a tall, plain dressed Quaker came in. He was on his way home from Philadelphia, where he had been attending their yearly meeting-on horseback all the way from his home near Newmarket, 28 miles north of Toronto, to Philadelphia and return, which it had taken him six weeks to accomplish. I liked the appearance of the old gentleman, and although somewhat bashful made free to introduce myself to him, and having satisfied him that I was as represented, he very kindly invited me to make his house my home until I should meet with a situation. We were now 12 miles north of York, and next morning set out to attend a Methodist camp meeting which had been held in the woods for nearly two weeks. The roads were muddy. We had gone about two miles when I said: Chapman, this is out of our line of business; better go back. He thought we might hire to some of the meeting folk. My arguments won, and we returned. Chapman hired to an Englishman (a farmer) and I proceeded 16 miles further up the street to my Quaker friends near Newmarket. The tavern keeper where I stopped that night offered me twelve dollars a month. In the morning I called upon my Quaker friend; they entertained me kindly and although he had a nice young man working his farm on some kind of share, he said he would give me eight dollars a month for three months. I said: Gamble, the tavern keeper had offered me $12. He said his $8 was better. I wanted to know how $8 was better than $12. He said I would get the $8 but at the tavern I should likely have to spend half, and it was doubtful my getting the other half. I saw into it and accepted his offer, and for doing which I never regretted. I was treated with kindness, was comfortable, and remained there four months, and got my wages in full-a great improvement on the bug and bunk business in Brockville.

Welland Tribune

7 October 1887