Lehigh Corners – A Hamlet in Kitley

Lehigh Corners  (Kilborn Corners)

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Area of Lehigh Corners on map of 1861-62

This community is situated on the southern fringe of Frankville, straddling No.29 Highway. In the late 1800’s a toll gate was operated here on the old Victoria Macadamized road running between Brockville and Smith’s Falls.

The original settler was Gideon Leehy, somewhere around 1800. The spelling of the family name was changed to “Lehigh’ by Gideon’s grand-daughter.

The original homestead was split by No.29 Highway when it was constructed as a macadamized road in 1852. The highway from Brockville to Smiths Falls was known as the Victoria Macadamized Road in honour of Queen Victoria. It became No. 29 when absorbed into the provincial road system in 1927.

The first crude road through the Leigh’s- Frankville area ran half a mile east of the modern highway. A rough dirt road muddy in the spring and fall, connected this route with Lehigh’s.

Farmers in this area sent their milk to the Frankville Cheese Factory, a mile or so up the road.

The original Lehigh family home burned in 1866, and Lyman Brown, who had married one of the Lehigh girls, rebuilt the house.

Charles Lehigh earned a reputation as a fiddler, playing at many of the social events in this area in the later part of the 19th Century. He was also known as a fine trapper.

Around 1850 Levi Kilborn ran a general store in one half of his house located on Hwy 29 about a mile or so north from Lehigh’s Corners. He was the father of two of Lehigh’s best known sons, Dr. Roland Kilborn who was Toledo’s physician for many years and Dr. Omar Kilborn, a Canadian missionary serving in China for many years.

James Hewitt ran a black smithy in the corners around 1878, and around 1900 Lawrence Davidson set up another smithy. Hewitt and a carriage maker Ben Stewart, supplied farmers with carriages, harness and wagon wheels for many years.

With the coming of the car, service stations made their appearance; a familiar station was Charlie Sands’ establishment on the northeast corner of Leigh Corners. Sands also served for a number of years as Reeve of Kitley.

First School

Gideon Leehy believed in educating the youngsters, so he put up a log school on the south side of Kitley’s Ninth Concession Road, sometime before 1820.

The school lasted until 1851, when it burned down. By this time a number of other families had moved in and a small community was flourishing.

The good burghers elected to build a stone school, which was completed in 1852. For 109 years it served the area well, standing sturdy and sound on the north side of the road, opposite the charred remains of the old school.

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Lehigh School c1985

In 1961, the school was phased out of the system and replaced by the modern Frankville School on Hwy. 29.

Old school records show that in 1872, R.W.Hornick was the teacher of the one room school. In 1882 the school’s budget was $200., rising to $230 the next year.

Malcome Lehigh was teaching there in 1887 and in 1896 the muster showed six Leigh children attending: Maude, Mertle, Edna, Carrie, Everett and Ernie Lehigh. The last teacher when the final class was dismissd in 1961 was Aileen Montgomery.

Lehigh’s Cemetery

One of Kitley’s oldest burying grounds; Lehigh’s Cemetery is located on the south side of Kitley’s 9th Concession Road about a mile west of Highway 29.

The exact age of the cemetery is unknown but it is probably that burials were being made there between 1800 and 1810.

The land came from part of the 500 acre homestead of Gideon and Clarissa Leehy. The Lehigh burial plot is in the extreme southeast corner of the old burying ground. Here lie Gideon and his wife the former Clarissa Kilborn and the seven members of their family.

A number of Lehigh’s Corners pioneers also rest here. The names on the headstones read like a “Who’s Who of Frankville and district. One plot holds members of the Arnold Family, among them John D Arnold of Brockville who died July 6, 1892 at the age of 76. Also resting in the cemetery are John Soper (1818-1890) his wife Sarah Bennett (1852-1906).

One of Kitley’s outstanding citizens of the 20 Century Hiram McCrae lies in this cemetery. Hiram was born in Montague Township July 2 1807 son of United Empire Loyalist Edward McCrae originally of Albany, NY. Joining the Leeds Militia, McCrae rose to the rank of Colonel. He settled in Kitley in 1837 at the age of 30 and became deeply involved in municipal affairs. Appointed a magistrate in 1853 he served in that position for 35 years until his death in 1888. He was also elected Reeve of the township in 1858, He was Warden of the United Counties three times in 1864, 1867 and 1873.

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Lehigh Corners on map of 1998
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Road Sign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lehigh Cemetery photo 2016
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Lehigh Cemetery photo 2016
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Original Lehigh Home c1985
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Old log home on Lehigh Road East photo 201
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Lehigh Corners c1985