Jellyby was named for the pioneer Jelly’s who settled these fertile fields back in the 1820’s, but just how and where the letters “by” were added is unknown. John Jelly didn’t know but pointed out that early cartographers sometimes added a letter or two to place names to make them more distinctive. As far as anyone knows the post office called it Jellby, before that it was known as Jelly’s Crossing from the fact that the road crosses the railway tracks here.
Prior to 1860 local folk got their mail at North Augusta. In 1859 the Brockville and Ottawa railway line was completed from Brockville to Arnprior with a spur line from Smiths Falls to Perth. Railway stations and subsequently post offices sprang up along the line. Jellyby’s post office flourished for a century before being phased out around 1965. The railway station disappeared around the same time.
The first money any settler made on his newly acquired land in the dim distant days of this community’s past came from the sale of potash, old records of the John Jelly family indicate.
Settlers, who had to clear their land of scrub timber and bush before they could grow crops, produced tons of ashes from burning the wood. Settlers hauled their ashes to the potash factories along the St. Lawrence or to the small communities nearby. By 1820, ash potteries were running in Phillipsville operated by Patrick Burns; at Spencerville, where blacksmith John Miller ran the mill; at Addison, run by Harry Lewis; at Seeleys Bay at the Hartley Mill; at Escott operated by partners Joe Dowsley and Andrew Todd; in Brockville, conducted by Henry Jones. In the years 1820 to 1850 tons of Potash went down to Brockville from the Jellyby area. The industry in Leeds collapsed between 1860 and 1870 following discovery of huge potash mines in Europe. Although farmers found ready cash for their potash, housewives also put ashes to good use making soap.
The Jelly farm was bought by the Jelly Family in 1827, but the land on which the farm is located is older than that, the original deed shows that the first grant of land was made in 1802. The original John Jelly came here from Ireland in 1820, living first in the United States, then coming to Canada in 1826 and settling here the following year. He was accompanied by a brother William and a sister Anne. The first house was a single room log cabin built on the farm. As his family kept growing he kept adding rooms until the original home was the centre of a rambling structure housing up to 11 children. Of the 11 children only one son Robert would remain to carry on the 200 acre farm. In 1885 Robert Jelly constructed a two story brick house, tearing down the original homestead.
(Recorder and Times, Darling Collection Book 3)
In 1830 the first church in Jellby was erected and it was a Methodist Church. Most of the area residents were Anglican and they had to travel to Brockville where the closest Anglican Church was located. In 1864, St. James Anglican Church was opened to worshippers in Jellby. A pioneer Anglican missionary, Rev. John Stanhage, who was then in charge of mission development in the northern sections of Augusta and Elizabethtown became the first minister of this new church. The stain glass window came from England and was a gift from Rev. John Stanhage . The hands on the painted clock above the doorway read 10:29, people are not sure if this is in reference to a bible verse, or the time that services started (Toledo Library Archives)
Jellyby or Jellby- In researching this hamlet we have come across both spellings, and a sentence by someone that they never knew which was the correct spelling as Jellby was used by the old timers in the area.
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.
In Feb 1888 a post office was opened at Jellyby with Joseph Pritchard as postmaster. The community had been formerly known as Jelly’s Crossing.
July 31, 1933, during a very severe electrical storm Henry Barns at Jellby had eight cows killed and Harry Cooper, Rocksprings lost three horses. The lightning was the worst seen in some years.
On December 1, 1940 the Orchard Cheese Factory at Jellby was totally destroyed by fire with all contents.
The farm home of Lawrence McManus at Jellyby was burned on February 14, 1963. The family of three escaped in their night attire and bare feet and nothing was saved. Mr.McManus woke up coughing about 1:30 am and he woke his wife and called his 15 year old son they just barely escaped with their lives. The wind was blowing away from the cattle filled barns. The stone house known as the Tackaberry place was 103 years old.
On May 9, 1968 a garage and car owned by Alfred Adams at Jellyby burned. The owners son Hugh Adams received serious burns in the fire.
The Athens Reporter and County of Leeds Advertiser
Excerpts have been taken from this paper referencing the following hamlet for the years 1889, 1894 and 1895
Nov 18, 1894 issue-
Glossville, Nov. 10-
Mrs. Henry Davis, of Jellyby, is a guest at Mrs. R. Barlow’s
Tuesday April 30, 1895 issue–
Alfred Pepper moved to Jellyby, having leased Orchard Valley cheese factory for this season.