Friday, September 23, 2011

Woops, I Was Mistaken

A few days back I posted a blog on my great, great grandfather John Croswell and the three bricks that I have in my possession, which he moulded and fired.

At that point I said I didn't have much info.  Well I got into my family tree files later on and discovered there has been a lot written about said individual.  It had simply slipped my mind.

Anyway, here a few excerpts which I found particularly interesting.


From the North Star paper, Wednesday November 28, 1990 - John Macfie     
Not long ago I donated a couple of bricks to the West Parry Sound Museum, not to help build its new home on Tower Hill, but as artifacts of minor piece of the district's history which is in the verge of being forgotten.

The century old orange-red bricks were formed and fired in Ahmic Harbour by one of that community's pioneers, John Croswell, from clay deposited on the bottom of a larger post-glacial version of Ahmic Lake.  Croswell was no amateur at the brickmaker's trade.  His father before him made bricks at Leeds in England's Yorkshire County, and the family carried on the business in conjunction with farming when they settled in southern Ontario after emigrating in 1842.

Early in Parry Sound District's settlement era(the gravestone of Sarah, wife of John Croswell, in the Ahmic Harbour cemetery is dated 1867) John Croswell and three of his sons took up several hundred acres of Free Grant lands around the west end of Ahmic Lake.  John's brother, William was to push still farther north to Loring, where he too pursued the family trade of brickmaking. 

One of John's sons was 'Black' Charlie--so called to distinguish him from an uncle or cousin (my informants disagree on this point). He died from complications resulting from cutting himself with his broadaxe.  And it was 'Black' Charlie who homesteaded the land on which Ahmic Harbour now sits, and from which his father dug the clay to make bricks.  The resulting pit is now a weedy pond hidden in brush immediately to the south of the southern entrance to the village.

Considering the modest size of the hole in the ground it left, John Croswell's brickmaking made a respectable mark on the landscape within a radius of several miles of Ahmic Harbour.  In my younger days quite a number of houses in the area were sheathed in Croswell bricks, and two or three of them survive today, their ruddy facades glowing mellower by the decade.  Probably the largest building they were called upon to enclose was the original Ahmic Harbour Hotel, which was destroyed by fire early in this century. 

The bricks I gave to the museum are from the original shell of the United Church in Dunchurch, which was built around 1895.  The church continues to receive Sunday worshipers today, but about 30 years ago the brick veneer had to be replaced with a different form of siding, because it was parting company with the building's wooden skeleton.  The salvaged bricks were offered for sale and I bought a couple of hundred, several of which bore the Croswell trademark, his initials, JC.

Except that whoever was responsible for making the mirror image of the the figure in the mould, more often than not failing to get the C facing the right way.  I have yet to find a backwards J on a Croswell brick, but on more than half of the initialed specimens I have seen (the handwriting form varies mould to mould) the C is backwards.  So for the sake of authenticity I saw that the museum has one of those as well.


Land Grant documentation:

Grant to John Croswell, 164 acres, Township of Croft, District of Parry Sound, recorded the 8th day of November, 1882, Liber 20, folio, 115, John F.C. Ussher, deputy Provincial Registrar.   Township of Croft at 10:10 a.m., 7th June A.D.1883, Kate Foley.

Province of Ontario

Victoria, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Queen, Defender of the Faith.

To all to whom these present shall come, Greetings Know Ye, that We of Our Special Grace, certain knowledge and mere motion, have given and grant, unter the authority of the "Free Grants and Homesteads Act" unto John Croswell, of the township of Croft in the District of Parry Sound, Yeoman, a Free Grant Settler, his heirs and assigns forever, all those parcels or tracts of land, situate in the Township of Croft in the District of Parry Sound in our said Province, containing by admeasurement one hundred and sixty four acres be the same, more or less, being composed of Lot number Twenty one(eighty acres) and Lot Number Twenty two(eighty-four acres) in the Ninth Concession of the Township of Croft aforesaid.  Reserving free access to the shore of Ah-mik Lake for all vessels and persons, for which the said John Croswell was located under the said Act on the twenty first day of March A.D. 1877.  To have and to hold, the said Parcels or Tracts of Land hereby granted, conveyed and assured unto the said John Croswell, his heirs and assigns forever, saving, excepting and reserving nevertheless, unto Us, our heirs and successors, all gold, silver, copper, lead, iron or other mines or minerals, and the free use, passage and enjoyment of, in, over and upon all navigable waters that shall or may be hereafter found on or under, or be flowing through or upon any part of the said Parcels or Tracts of Land hereby granted as aforesaid.

Given under the Great Seal of Our Province of Ontario:  Witness the Honourable John Beverly Robinson, Lieutenant Governor of Our Province of Ontario.

At Toronto, this thirty first day of October in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and eighty two and in the forty-eighth year of Our Reign.

By Command of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, Arthur S. Hardy, Secretary, Thos. H. Johnson, Assistant Commissioner of Crown Lands.

from the Croswell History by Linda French:

John Croswell was born 2 July 1831, Leeds, Yorkshire, England, son of Charles and Rebecca (Hobbs) Croswell.  He came to Canada with his parents in 1842.  After the death of his father, Rebecca married George French and settled in Peel township.  At some point, John moved to Beverly township, Wentworth County, Ontario, where he was a farmer.

After making the long trek to Elora, Ontario, John married on June 16, 1851, to Sarah Larmer, of Peel township.  The witnesses were George French and Thomas Gordon.  John seems to have been literate, as he signed his license with his name, where Sarah marks with an'X' .  Together they had six children.

Sarah Larmer was born in Belfast, Ireland, daughter of James and Martha Larmer.  Sarah died in 1867, and is buried in Ahmic Harbour, Ontario.

At this point, John moved to the Ahmic Harbour area, where he was a brickmaker and the first postmaster of that said town, settling on Lots 15, 16, Concession VII, Croft township.

After Sarah's death, John married Mary Ann Taylor, widow of Mr. Otter, on the 15 June, 1868.  They were married by Reverend Charles Roffe, in the Primitive Methodist Church, and Duncan McLennan of Mornington was the witness.  Together they had four children, she also had four children from her first marriage.

John and Mary Ann with their first child.

Mary Ann died on 20 February 1901, John died 25, January 1920, both in the Ahmic Harbour cemetery.  He was a farmer and contractor at the time of his death.

Of John and Sarah's Children:

1. Charles, born 5 March 1852, married Phoebe Ann Dixon, and was a blacksmith in Ahmic Harbour.  They had seven children.  Phoebe Ann died in 1918 from the flu epidemic, as did their daughter Sarah Jane (Croswell) Langford.  Their other daughter Phoebe Ann died of appendicitis.
2. John jr, born 12, April 1854, married Susannah Hammond, they had thirteen children.  Their eldest daughter, Florence Mary married William Millin.  All 12 of the Millin family inherited their father's bad heart, that has run in the family for generations and they all usually pass away by 60 and if they get past that age, they are usually under doctor's care and digitalis.
3. Sarah, born 30 April 1856, married James Hosick and had seven children.  Sarah walked from Ahmic Harbour to Parry Sound and back to purchase the material for her wedding dress.  No mean feat in those days!  Their daughter Phoebe May, was born with a badly twisted spine, in fact you could lay your clenched fist in the crooked bend in her spine.  The poor child was in constant pain and yet she tried to be cheerful with it all.  When the pain got bad, she would try to laugh, it was pathetic, because you could not tell her laughter from her crying.
4. Henry, born 23 March 1858, was an engineer on a railway in Michigan, and was taking time off to get married, while instructing the man that was taking his place in the work he was to do, the train shunted and knocked Henry off the top car and the train ran over him killing him instantly.
5. Rebecca, born 14 March, 1865
6. William born 16 November, 1865

   Of John and Mary Ann's Children:
1. Mary Ann, born 5 May, 1870, married Daniel Wilson and had ten children.
2. Lillian Elizabeth, born 25 June 1874, Millbank, Ontario. She first married John Kennedy, and they had three children.  In 1911, she married Victor E. Neely.
3. Elizabeth, born 1875
4. David Samuel, born 20 July 1877. 

from Chuck Nelson

John's birthdate is shown as July 2, 1831 on his gravestone, however his descendants claim he was born in 1828.  His gravestone inscription reads "John Croswell, born July 2nd, 1831, died January 25th 1920"

Then and Now, Volume 3 - Donalda Brown
The first settlers in the Ahmic Harbour vicinity of Croft Township were John and William Croswell, who came from Peel County, just before 1878.  They came by boat to Parry Sound, and walking inland, took up land a few hundred yards from Ahmic Lake, cleared the forest and built log cabins for themselves.

Other settlers, mostly of English descent, soon followed, including William Crawford, Edmund Paul, John Paul, Sampson Paul and William Stanyer, mostly from Southern Ontario.  Many of these men found work in the lumber camps around Ahmic Lake, which was operated then by the Dodge Lumber Co.

As need for the education of the area children developed, the original formation papers for a school section were drawn up by Judge Patrick McCurry of Parry Sound, and Public School Inspector R. Little of Acton, dated October 14, 1876.  On the back of this paper appears the following notation:  " I hereby appoint William Croswell of the township of Croft, to call the first school meeting of S.S No 1 in said township for the purpose of selecting three public school trustees and an auditor of school section accounts for said section."
The first members of the school board were John Croswell (Chairman), William Stanyer and John Paul.
There was no store in Ahmic Harbour until 1884.  Prior to this John Croswell drove his team to Parry Sound and brought back needed supplies.
The Croswell brothers, John and William owned a boat works in Ahmic Harbour at that time, located where Bert Crossman's house is now built at the west end of Ahmic Lake.  Croswells were making fine boats at the water front.  Hunting and fishing were at their best.
Thus I stand corrected.

And that is about all I have to say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Much appreciated comments from my friends: