Fairfield East – A Forgotten Hamlet in Elizabethtown

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For many years, this community, a couple of miles north of Brockville, was served by a tiny store at the southeast corner of the main intersection in Fairfield East. Operated by Fred Bain and his wife, the store, though small, sold everything the community needed.  Bain Road which runs east past the store was named for the this couple.

 

Legend says that during the War of 1812, a pot of gold was buried on the Nathan Clark farm, south of here. Indians told the settlers of the incident but neglected to say who buried the gold or why. In the late 1800’s many gold hunters came to the Clark farm seeking the gold, and the diggings can still be spotted here and there on the 200 acre homestead. No one ever found any trace of the gold.

Five generations of Clarks have lived in the fine old frame Clarke Homestead on the North Augusta Road in the Southern Section of this community. The Clark story began June 16, 1749 when Nathan Clark was born in East Dorset, Vermont. Nathan married Sarah Gifford on March 23, 1775 and since they supported the British forces in the American Revolution they were forced to flee to Canada.

About 1865, a wooden frame school was built west of the McDougall farm and around 1900 the third Fairfield East School was erected. The school was phased out during the school consolidation of the 1960’s.

In the dim, distant past of this peaceful farming community on the Fifth Concession of Elizabethtown, two maiden ladies, sisters, named Pucker, lived along the road now know as North Augusta Road. They gave their name to the area and for a long time ‘Pucker Street’ was the centre of the community. It remained Pucker Street until 1857, when the Brockville and Ottawa Railway was completed. The railway put up a small station near the McDougall farm and demanded a new name for the community.

Pioneers J.W. Hough and Albert Johns were given the task of coming up with a name suitable to the railway. These two gentlemen deliberated long, and finally, because of the beauty of the area, decided that it should be called “Fair Field”, subsequently shortened to “Fairfield”. So the station became known as Fairfield and this particular area became Fairfield East, to distinguish it from a settlement west of the tracks. That settlement has long since vanished and today there is no trace of Fairfield West.

The original trail from Brockville to North Augusta was a mere path through the woods. Later this path developed into a stage road and stage coaches appeared, running from Brockville to North Augusta. The stage driver had a loud horn beside him, and as he passed every farmhouse, he would blow a long blast on the horn. His passengers would come running and climb aboard. North Augusta Road was once a toll road and a toll gate was set up at the “Long Swamp”, south of the community. The fees were one cent per single horse and two cents for a team. The toll house, once operated by Charlie Fox, was destroyed by fire and never rebuilt. Tolls passed out of existence before the outbreak of the First Great War.

With the arrival of the railroad in 1857, Fairfield East secured a post office. The first office was set up on the west side of the railway tracks with Alden Johns as Postmaster, who was also the community grocer. Mail was delivered and picked up three times a week.

Fairfield East revolved around the church with the Presbyterian Church erected in 1865. It was used until the early 1920’s and then abandoned. The Fairfield East Women’s Institute subsequently bought the building and property and tore the church down to make way for a hall. (Recorder & Times c1980- Darling Collection Book 3)

Down on the Blain Road, a quarter of a mile east of the North Augusta Road, passing through this community stands half a wall of an ancient stone home. This is all that remains of a pioneer residence believed to have been erected more that 180 years ago.

Known years ago as the Kelly place, from a family of Kelly’s who lived here from the early days, the property passed through several hands before disaster struck 50 years ago. The house caught fire one hot July day and was burned out before bucket brigades could quell the flames. Then because the tottering walls posed a menace to the community children, farmers dynamited the walls and brought them tumbling down. Now only the west wall, with one empty window gaping, stands forlornly over the ruins. (Recorder and Times, Darling Collection Bk 7)

The Vouts of Fairfield East

Down through the ages the name Robert Vout has appeared in almost every generation. These Huguenots of old France were among the early settlers of this area. One branch of the family settled near this farming community, making a significant contribution to the social and agricultural life of Augusta and Elizabethtown Townships.

Robert Vout was born in Hoveton, St. Peter’s in the Hundred of Tunstead Norfolk in 1825. He wed Tabitha, better know as Bertha Rose a native of Scottow, Norfolk, born in 1829. The marriage took place in 1840, a few years before they migrated to Canada.

Robert and Bertha came to this country with three, possibly four children, taking several weeks to cross the Atlantic. Robert and Bertha settled on a farm in the Sixth Concession of Augusta. The road later became known as Slab Street. Some 16 years after arriving here, Robert was able to pay $1,100 for a 100 acre homestead, a choice bit of farmland developed by another pioneer, Terence O’Reilly.

Robert Vout died on July 19, 1907, 55 years after arriving and Bertha lived another six years, dying on June 15, 1913 at the age of 84. Both lie in the Vout family plot in the Bissell Cemetery. (Recorder and Times, Darling Collection Bk 7)

J.W. Hough

The late J.W.Hough was born in London, England and settled in Canada at an early date. The sole surviving member of the original family is Mr. George Hough of Augusta, his farm at Fairfield being one of the finest and best cultivated in Leeds County. (History of Leeds and Grenville by Thad. Leavitt pub 1879)

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J.W. Hough Home from Leavitt’s History pub. 1879

 

 

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Early map c1800

 

 

 

 

 

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Fred Bain at his store in Fairfield East
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Robert and Tabitha Rose Vout abt 1860
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The Vout’s and Bain’s in 1930

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Women’s Institute Hall
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4 H Homemaking Club abt 1968- Sharon (Spicer) Barton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Map of 1861-62
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Walter Slack Home built around 1830
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Clarke Home built in 1804

 

Fairfield East Mail Route

by Edna (Phillips) Spicer

Fred and Gertie Bain lived on a farm on the 6th concession of Elizabethtown east of the Manhard Church with her parents, Jack and Jane Vout. The Bain’s had a car at this time and Fred drove it.

As a child I lived next door. My Grandmother, Sarah Phelps lived with us. The Bain’s got the Fairfield east mail route sometime around the early 1930’s. They bought a new car at this time, and Gertie Bain did the driving. In the winter time when the roads were bad, Fred delivered the mail with the horse and cutter.

The Post Office at this time was at the John’s home on the 5th Concession, near the railroad, Mr. Johns was the Post Master. He took the mail to the train and returned with the mail for the mail carrier who delivered it the next day.

In 1937 the post office was moved to the home of Mrs. Jesse Manhard. (the corner of County Road 6 and the now Bain Road). Mr. Manhard was Post Master for 12 years. He died suddenly in early July 1949.

Bain’s took over the Post Office, Feb 11th, 1952, with Mrs. Bain as Post Mistress. The Bain’s moved from the farm to the Manhard house Feb. 29th, 1952.

A few years later while still living in the Manhard house, the post office was now closed. Mrs. Bain then went to the Post Office in Brockville picked up the mail and the Recorder and Times Newspaper which was delivered there. Mrs. Bain then delivered the mail the same day on the Fairfield East mail route. At this time the Fairfield East mail route became R.R.#5, Brockville. The post office was never located at Bain’s Store.

Jack Vout and my grandmother were brother and sister. The picture of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Vout were parents of Jack and Sarah, and my Great Grand parents.

“Edna’s Scrapbook”

is a paperback book written by Edna B. Chant and was published in 1998. Edna Chant was a reported with the “Athens Reporter” for 23 years and she is the author of four books.

Her book, which is made up of news clippings from various sources, from which we have taken excerpts, gives us a glimpse into life in our area for over a hundred year period ending with stories from 1975.

While her book covers many areas of Leeds and Grenville we have only focused on the area within Elizabethtown-Kitley Township.

 

Fairfield East

On December 2, 1859 three men were killed on the railroad at Fairfield East when their handcar was struck by an express train. Sam Wiley and William Dixon died immediately and Thomas Cook died within the hour.

Sam Walker’s cheese factory at Fairfield East located on the old Hough farm was burned on Christmas Day 1917.

On July 18, 1952 William Wallace McDougal of Fairfield East was killed in a car accident.

On January 10, 1963 a Fairfield East farmer, who had lived in the area for over 40 years, Charles Harry Williams aged 69, was struck and killed by a train on a level crossing five miles north of Brockville.

A large barn owned by M. Goldfinger and son Joseph at Fairfield East was burned on September 7, 1967. Lost were 3,000 bales of hay, 60 tons of oats as well as some calves and machinery. Firemen from North Augusta and Elizabethtown were able to save the house and two other barns. The fire could be seen a long distance and cars were bumper to bumper along the road.

 

10 thoughts to “Fairfield East – A Forgotten Hamlet in Elizabethtown”

  1. Very well done, brings back a lot of memories, I had never seen a picture of Bain s Store before, i had forgotten how small it was. The Bain s were a wonderful couple, lots of times we d ride down on our bikes for a soft drink in the evening. In the summer Mrs Bain delivered the mail to the mail boxes, but in the winter you had to drive to the store to pick it up.

    1. That is very interesting to know about that a lot history there I never knew about. I do remember some stuff the Grandma n Grandpa had told me. That’s cool to know about the area that u grew up in.

      1. Gad that you enjoyed the story and the memories. Keep an eye on our site as we will be posting more stories and photos of the other forgotten hamlets in Elizabethtown and Kitley

    1. My parents (Eugene and Gabrielle La Salle) cleared the swamp land behind Bains Store in 1970.

      Mr. Bain was a very good friend to me when I was a child. I spent many hours talking to him each day. My mother made Me. Bain dinner several times a week. She worried that he did not eat healthy enough. I miss those wonderful days.

  2. Hello,
    I am a descendant of Nathan Clark and Sarah Gifford, through my maternal grandmother Norma Lees née Clark, my information regarding Nathan and Sarah is somewhat different and I would be thrilled to trade information.
    Thanks

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