The Tramp’s Funeral

The Tramp’s Funeral

Long ago, the death of an unidentified tramp led to a merry wake by the farmers of the region west of Lyn.

In the early 1800’s, two farmers found the body of a transient in a field north of Jones Creek. While they were discussing their find and wondering whether or not they should send a rider into Brockville to fetch a coroner, Charles Jones, the pioneer merchant and miller of Elizabethtown, rode up.

Jones, who had mills in Brockville, Jones Creek and Yonge Mills, as well as a general store in Brockville, told the farmers that Brockville had no coroner, and in fact the nearest medical examiner resided in Gananoque.

He also ventured the opinion that it was not necessary to incur needless expense and that the best thing to do under the circumstances was to give the victim a decent burial.

He suggested a cheap coffin be purchased and the unknown tramp laid to rest. He contributed $2.00 towards the cost.

After his departure, the farmers proceeded to search the pockets of the corpse, finding another $2.50. Neighbours were notified, and since there was no minister in the area, one of the best educated and influential settlers was chosen to conduct the service. The coffin was made in Lyn and the tramp duly placed in it.

The funeral service was held at a log house at Yonge Mills. The tramp was interred at an area graveyard, and after the service, the mourners discovered they still had $1.50 unexpended.

The question immediately arose, as to how it should be spent. By Universal consent, the mourners decided that the fund should be invested in spirits. In those days $1.50 bought quite a quantity of liquor. In fact, the gathering was supplied with a pail full of the best whisky available in the district. Every man present had several cups, until the pail was empty. Then they went home happy. Nothing was thought of the matter, the custom of ‘drinking’ being almost universal.

The tramp’s grave was never marked and the exact location is unknown today.

(Author unknown)

Growing up in Lyn

Remembrances of Growing up in Lyn

By Mamie (Stillwell) Robinson

I have been reliving those old days and getting a great deal of pleasure in doing so. We didn’t know it then, but those were very happy days, with loads of fun and very little responsibility. Our main worry was to make the grade and do as little work as possible.

Going to BCI in 1910. Margaret Fodey, Jack Clow, Vada Clow and Gladys Latimer

My first year at Brockville Collegiate Institute (BCI) we went in with Milton Perley. He had remained behind when his father moved and was staying with Dr. Sharpe. Jessie and Herb Kilpatrick, Gertrude, Milton and I made up that load. He drove a sorrel horse called “Katrina”. I can still hear him say “You’re not pullin’ together thar, Kit”. After Milton left Lyn, we went in with Alfred McCready. It was a three seated democrat and quite a load for one horse. The occupants were changing now and again as they graduated or were satisfied with a short term. I am a little hazy about this load, but Mabel Greer, Sam McCormick, Harford Steed, Ed, Pettem, Fred and Helen Barlow, and always Gertrude and I. It seems to me that Arthur Judson was along too. The last two years we went with Howard Everts with and old white horse that used to take blind staggers and try to climb trees. Quite frequently something would break, and no matter how near we were to Brockville we always ‘turned tail’ and walked home in order to enjoy a day’s skating, snow shoeing or tobogganing on Billings’ Hill. We thought the fresh air would do us good, and Tommy Marquis (BCI Teacher) always took our excuses. He had a soft spot for the Lyn kids.

Occasionally we used to buy bottles of soft drinks and each have a straw in the same bottle, to see who could get the most. I remember one night the girls bought a basket of peaches, and the boys took the same notion that same night. Of course we thought we ought to eat them before we got home. I am ashamed to say that Gertrude and I each ate 24, but Helen being smaller, and of smaller capacity, could only manage 20. Of course the peaches were not of the large variety. It is a wonder we didn’t burst, but nothing happened. Some contest!

(This note was dated Feb, 24, 1952, from Prescott, Route 2)

Edna’s Scrapbook – News Stories of Lyn

“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.

Lyn

The body of a German Frederick Thuenbeer was found on the farm of William Brown two miles west of Lyn on Dec 3, 1859.

An old man of Lyn who had been living alone since the death of his wife had lately been showing signs of insanity, but was considered harmless. On July 21, 1890 he donned his old army uniform and carrying his musket he stopped every rig that came down the road, and made them turn around and go back. But finally, Mr. Stack of the Lyn House came along and he took the loaded gun away from him and took him into Brockville when he turned him over to the police. He was found to be hopelessly insane and could easily have killed someone.

The worst storm to hit the Leeds and Grenville area in many years took place on January 13, 1890. A great deal of damage was done and it seemed like a miracle that no lives were lost. The Lyn area was hit the hardest. The huge chimney on the woollen mill went down with a crash; the Methodist church blew down, all being left was the spire; roofs were carried away from 12 barns; the roofs blew off the Masonic Hall, the Oddfellows Hall and Taylor’s drug store, and over 50 large trees blew down.

The Eyre Manufacturing Co. at Lyn began operation on March 4, 1890 They have contracted to buy logs from area farmers, and arranged for the B&W to pick them up along the line They will make cheese boxes, hollow ware and measures. This will help farmers and also the railroad.

On January 19, 1895, little Joey Miller, son of Joseph Miller of Lyn, was drowned. He was paying on the ice near the flour mill and got into the flume and was carried underneath the ice. He was rescued in 30 minutes, but could not be revived. Mr. Miller lost another son by drowning seven years ago.

A shocking accident occurred on October 8th 1897 near Lyn. Charlie Moore was walking on the road carrying a double barrelled shotgun, when a neighbour Mr. DeWolfe stopped his rig and offered him a ride. He told Charlie to put the gun between them, but he said the gun was loaded and he might better put it in the back of the rig, which he did. When they reached Charlie’s home, he got out and attempted to remove the gun by pulling it out by the barrel. The gun discharged, blowing off Charlie’s arm. Mr. DeWolfe drove him three and a half miles to the office of Dr. Judson at Lyn with the stump of his arm hanging in shreds The doctor amputated the are at the shoulder at the hospital in Brockville after giving him first aid at the office. Charlie was very brave throughout the ordeal.

Albert Edgely of Lyn vouches for the truth of the following: In June 1898, he was planting corn when his wife called him for dinner. He folded the top of the bag of seeds over, and left it in the field while he ate. When he returned, two crows were holding the bag open, while a third crow ate the corn.

Benjamin Blake long resident of Lyn, who was working on the farm of David Condie near Smiths Falls, was gored to death by a bull on July 2, 1898.

A ten year old Lyn girl, Carrie McNish, was instantly killed by lightning on July 24, 1900. She was lying on a couch in the kitchen of her home, when the end of the house was struck. Her brother was knocked senseless for a time. Her mother had both her boots torn off. A sister, aged six threw water on the couch and her mother’s dress which were burning, and then ran through the rain to the butter factory to get her father. Dr. Judson was sent for to treat mother and son, but there was nothing he could do for Carrie.

Bernard Slack aged five years was drowned at Lyn on March 13, 1902.

On July 3, 1907 a sharp electric storm passed over the area. A large barn owned by Walter Lee of Lyn was struck and burned.

On April 23, 1910, Mrs. John Livingstone of Lyn met her death in an unusual manner. She had been enjoying good health and cooked dinner at noon. About 1pm her husband went to the village on business returning at 4 pm He found the door locked and the key under the mat. He unlocked the door and went in, and when he found that his wife had not come by five o’clock he went to the barn to look for her. Then he noticed the milk pail was gone and he had thought that she had gone to milk the cow. He later found the cow which had not been milked so he drove to the barn. Then he heard their collie dog barking near a small stream in another field. Here he found his wife laying face down in a couple of inches of water, the milk pail beside her. He carried her to a grassy knoll, but she appeared to be dead. An autopsy later revealed she had not drowned, but had apparently dropped dead when she stopped to dip up some water.

On November 20, 1910 William Neilson of Lyn, while deer hunting near Madawaska District, fell on a rocky shore and broke his leg. He lay for several hours until the hunting party found him. A splint was made out of saplings for his leg and he was carried more than two miles to the railroad. Here they flagged down the train and sent him to Brockville and the hospital there. It was a harrowing experience for all concerned.

A well known Lyn farmer Nathan Purvis was killed while walking on the tracks near the Lyn Junction. The body was badly mutilated. The accident happened August 29, 1912.

Joseph Robinson Reeve of Elizabethtown Township died at his home in Lyn on December 8, 1915. He was a valued member of Counties Council and highly regarded in the Township. He was born November 27, 1847 in the house where he died and was 68 years of age. His father John Robinson came to Canada from Yorkshire, England and established a valuable farm out of the virgin forest on what is now called Halleck’s Road. Joseph Robinson married Mary A. Davidson and they had four children, George, William, Nellie and May. For his second wife he married Rebecca Davidson who died 14 years ago. Joseph was buried in Fulford’s Cemetery on the river front.

On March 29, 1916 James Cummings of Lyn was killed by a train near Avondale Farm. (note this caused the now underpass on the Lyn Road to be built)

On January 12, 1918 Mr. William Struk was struck and killed by a snow plow on the Grand Trunk Railroad near Lyn. He was an Australian by birth and had been working as a section man for the past five years there was a blizzard at the time and visibility was very poor. He left a wife and family in Australia.

The old Last Factory at Lyn burned March 24 1924

Wilfred Parslow, 21, of Lyn was electrocuted on June 19, 1930 while digging a well in Athens. He was assisting Jack Brown and G. Adrian in sinking a well at the corner of Elgin and Wellington Streets and was holding an iron rod when it touched overhead hydro wires. He died instantly.

R.K.Kilmurry of Lyn was killed at Addison in a car crash.

On November 20, 1954 Mrs. Ernest Hanna of Lyn 51, died at a square dance at Delta.

Miss. Altha Pettem of Lyn killed at Toledo in a car accident March 2, 1955

On February 22, 1956 Nancy Ann Moore, 19, of Lyn District and Gerald Walker of Addison district were found dead in a car.

On June 18, 1957 two residents of Lyn were killed in a highway crash near Pickering. Cecil Wilfred Chant, age 39, and his niece Doris Helen Chant, age 18, were killed instantly. A double funeral was held with interment in Lyn Cemetery.

On January 8, 1958 the home of Peter Grendel near Lyn was burned in the early hours of the morning. The family was awakened by the roar of the flames and escaped in their night attire. The boys of the family aged 26, 18, 16 and 12 ran in and out several times and saved most of the furniture downstairs, but many valuable antiques from Holland were lost. Neighbours helped to save the outbuildings, 24 cows and 5 calves.

The farmhouse near Lyn known as the Casper Booth place was destroyed by fire on January 8, 1958. Tenants were Mr. and Mrs. Peter Grendel and their four children.

Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Jones of Lyn observed their 65th wedding anniversary o May 25, 1961. They were married on May 25, 1896 in Lyn where they have spent most of their life. Mrs. Jones is the former Maude Latimer. They had three children: their son Carman died overseas during World War I, a daughter Edna died in 1954 and one daughter Muriel Chisamore lives at Young Mills.

The home of Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Ladd of Lyn was badly damaged by fire on August 12, 1962

On March 28, 1963 Charles Wilfred Hendry, 61, Lyn farmer, suffered a heart attack and died in a field after chasing a run away tractor from which he had fallen.

The home of Mr and Mrs Claude Wilson of Lyn was burned with all its contents on January 31, 1964. Mr. Wilson was at work at Armstrong Motors and Mrs. Wilson was at work at Wrightway Laundry, four children were at school and two were at their grandmother’s when the fire broke out. The Lyn Volunteer Department fought the flames.

A seven year old boy Allan Davis son of Mrs. Eileen Davis of Kilkenny Street, near Lyn lost his life when fire destroyed their home on March 10, 1964. Mrs. Davis was awakened by smoke about 1:30 am and called her two sons Allan and Louis and then ran to awaken her three daughters Betty, 15, Gloria 13, and Barbara 9. By this time the smoke was so thick they couldn’t find the stairs and they were helped out by a border, Charles Kane who slept downstairs. It wasn’t until they were all out that they missed Allan, but it was too late to go back in as the roof collapsed. They made their way to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Kavanaugh who owned the house. They cared for the shivering family and called the Lyn Fire Department. The pumper became stuck in the deep snow on the way, but they couldn’t have rescued the child anyway as the house was an inferno. It is thought that the fire started from a wood burning stove.

A well known Bellamy Construction worker, 52 year old Gordon Percy Campbell was crushed to death under tons of sand at the Lyn Gravel Pit on September 9, 1964. He had been employed by the Cardinal Construction Co. for the past two years. His fellow workmen thought he had gone home, but when they discovered his lunch pail was still full they called police. Digging was started immediately and his body was found. He was unmarried and is survived by one sister and six brothers.

On January 17, 1965 a young Lyn boy, Maxwell Hubert Kelly, age seven years, was accidentally hanged when the hood of his parka caught on the branches of a tree near his home. Three men driving by saw the boy and stopped to investigate. The child was hanging eight feet above the ground. They lifted the boy down and took him home where his parents called an ambulance, the child’s father applying mouth to mouth resuscitation. A team of three doctors tried in vain to save him. He was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Kelly.

Fire destroyed an old Lyn landmark on September 19, 1965 when the old grist mill built in 1838 was burned. At the time it was built, Lyn was known as Coleman’s Corners. In later years it became the post office and store owned by Joshua Lillie and still later by Mort Gardiner, Omar Mallory and Walter Billings. It was later sold to Ken Bolton and again by Blake Mott. At the time of the fire the owner was Charles Short. (Note this is the original mill on Main Street next to the bywash)

On October 25, 1965 damage totalling $15,000. was done by a fire to an old stone house near Lyn. The house was a landmark over 100 years old known as “The Darling Place”. It was owned by Jack Darling and had always been in the Darling family. The fire started from a woodstove and pipes in the kitchen. The fire touched off a series of events long to be remembered by Lyn Firefighters. Hey were called at 3pm and on arrival found the kitchen on fire and the garage also half burned. Under mutual aid they called Augusta to send a tank truck as they were short of water. Augusta sent a truck driven by Deputy Fire Chief Theo Baas and on the 3rd Concession Road the vehicle went out of control, rolled over several times and ended up wrecked in a deep rocky ditch. It was carrying 1,000 gallons of water. Members of Front of Yonge Fire Department were called and Brockville sent 500 gallons of water. By the time the fire was out, upwards of 50 men had been involved including area farmers who drew water in milk cans. There were no injuries. Mr. and Mrs. Darling and two young children were in Brockville at the time.

A young resident of Forthton, Ronald Chant, 21, was drowned in Lyn quarry on August 7, 1967. He had been swimming with other friends across the quarry when he seemed to tire suddenly and called for help. When friends reached him he disappeared. It took firemen and police almost an hour to recover the body. He was the only son of Mrs. Hazel Chant and the late Cecil Chant. He was employed at the Johnston Shoe Company in Brockville.

A disastrous fire at Lyn on May 11, 1968 destroyed the barns of Harry Anderson with 41 head of choice Holstein cows, equipment and 2000 bales of hay.

Mrs. George A. Wright of Brockville entertained 100 guests at her home, 22 Sherwood St., Brockville on April 20, 1969 on the occasion of her 95th birthday. She was the former Lillian Billings, a daughter of the late Marble Billings and his wife Ruth Kilbourn and was born at Lyn April 20, 1874. She had been known as “Aunt Lil” to countless friends through the years. She was married in 1897 to George A. Wright whose family operated the Robert Wright Company in Brockville. He later became Magistrate Wright presiding over local courts for many years. He died on August 10, 1954 aged 80. Although “Aunt Lil” appeared in excellent health for her birthday, she died less that five months later on September 6, 1969.

On July 13, 1970 a triple drowning at the Lyn pool shocked the area. Drowned were Gary Irvine Davis, 26 of RR4, Brockville; David Robert McKay, 20, of RR4, Brockville and Barbara Lee McKay, 18, of 18 Delhi Street, Brockville. Katherine McClintock, 12, saw the drowning and said the three were on a raft about 35 feet from the shore when they jumped off and started to swim to shore. One man grabbed the girl, the girl called out for help and the other man stopped to help and then all three disappeared. An inquest was held and a five man jury ruled the drowning accidental. It is believed that Miss. McKay got into difficulty and the two boys were drowned trying to help her.

Louis Pilon, aged 16 of Lyn was killed and five other youths injured on December 9, 1967, when their car crashed on the icy Howard Road as they were returning from a hockey match in Brockville. Pilon’s death was instant and the car was reduced to a piece of junk. The other five boys, David Pilon, 21, the driver; Alvin Massey, 15; Wayne Massey, 17; Larry and Lorne O’Toole were sent to hospital with cuts and fractures.

 

Our People, Our History

This part of our web site is dedicated to your stories – the stories of those people who helped shape our lives and make Lyn and Elizabethtown a great place to live and raise our families. Everyone has a story about themselves, a parent or grandparent who lived in this area.

This is a chance to share a part of your history to be preserved on our website. If you have an interesting story we would be glad to post it here in this section of our website.

You can post anonymously or under your own name. If we find the content of your story suitable we will publish it on our website.

You can send your stories to our email account at LynMuseum@gmail.com

We look forward to hearing from you and preserving a part of our heritage!

Elizabethtown – The Early Years

Elizabethtown Township

Elizabethtown was named in honour of Princess Elizabeth, the third daughter and seventh child of King George III and Queen Charlotte. According to a recent biography, she lived an unhappy, cloistered life. Vivacious and pretty as a child, she inherited an unfortunate tendency to corpulence as she grew older. She was “artistic, emotional, bossy and outspoken,” and despite her “Heart’s Desire” to be a wife, she seemed destined to remain a spinster.

Princess Elizabeth
Princess Elizabeth

How far away her world was from pioneer Elizabethtown! And yet 6000 miles away Elizabethtown people were among the most ardent royalists anywhere in the British Empire.

Elizabethtown was the first and only township in Leeds County to be surveyed in 1874. In Elizabethtown, Upper Canada, as roads were built and communities grew, the names grew spontaneously out of the soil: the Tin Cap; Hayes’ Corners, Olds’s Corners. As each community aspired to greatness, they changed their names. By the 1830s during the political troubles which exploded in the rebellion of 1837, the idea of ‘loyalty’ among ‘American’ settlers was questioned, and ‘Yankee’ names were suspect as signs of disloyalty. Thus Coleman’s Corners became Lowell in 1837, after the Massechutes mill town, a sign of its industrial potential; in the overheated emotionalism of the day, ‘Lowell’ was too inflammatory, so it was quickly rescinded in favour of the prosaic Lyn, with its English connotations of a waterfall of pool.

There  was a whole sale purging of the old names by the post office starting in the 1850s- think how many ‘Corners’ there must have been in Ontario – which imposed names like Spring Valley that had little relationship to the inhabitants.

Elizabethtown was the eighth and last of the Royal Townships laid out in 1783-83 along the St. Lawrence River, from the Quebec Border to the Thousand Islands. Elizabethtown is the old heartland of Eastern Ontario.

About 1850 something happened. The pioneer slash and burn agriculture had been replaced by a monoculture wheat crop, simply because England needed Canadian wheat during the Napoleonic Wars. Several times after 1790 the wheat crop was virtually wiped out by a wheat midge. “It was brought to the United States in 1779 in bales of hay for the horses of Hessian soldiers brought from Europe to assist the British in the Revolutionary War. Travelling about 10 to 12 miles a year the insects reached Cornwall about 1840 and by 1842 were at Prescott and Brockville taking a toll of wheat crops” In 1843, 200,000 bushels of wheat were exported from Brockville; this dropped to 40,000 in 1844.

The collapse of the wheat economy coincided with the drop in the water table in Elizabethtown, caused by the ‘land butchers’ who cut down all the trees.

About 1850 Elizabethtown went to sleep, like an old soldier dreaming of past glories. “We left everything as it was,” the lady in Forthtown said pointing to the old calendar. It was a long sleep that lasted a hundred years. This is not to say that nothing happened, that time stood still and things fell apart. By all accounts, life was sweet in Elizabethtown. Families grew large, grew small. Farms passed from father to son, husband to widow uncle to nephew in preordained fashion. Local industries, cheese factories, tanneries and blacksmiths came and went, like the railway. “It was a very pleasant spot to be brought up in,” remembered Walter Kilborn Billings in his childhood reminiscences How Dear to My Heart. Most of the older houses in Elizabethtown were constructed between 1820 and 1850, which makes it a treasure trove of historic Ontario architecture, but relatively few after 1850. Elizabethtown became a quiet rural township, with a sophisticated urban fringe along the St. Lawrence – the summer cottage people – and log shanties and privies along the back roads.

Excerpts from the book “Elizabethtown: The Last of the Royal Townships” by Alvin Austin pub June, 2009

Map of Elizabethtown
Elizabethtown Township