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.
On June 18, 1888 a man named Laughlin was hunting woodchucks on the farm of Frank McCrae near Brockville when he came across the body of a man. He told some chums about it, but they wouldn’t believe him until they went to look for themselves. They then told their parents and the police were called. But by this time it was dark, and they decided to wait until morning. At 7am they went to investigate with the boys leading the way. As they drew near, they were met by a terrible stench. The body was that of a man about 40 years of age in a sitting position with a leather strap wrapped tightly around his neck. It wasn’t possible that he could have hung himself, as the other end of the strap wasn’t attached to anything. His hair and whiskers had fallen off and the flesh was gone from his hands. He was well dressed in a blue suit and black overcoat and his shoes were shinny new rubbers. A document in his pocket gave his name as Hans Christianson, but no address. Police later learned that a man by that name had boarded at the home of Mr. Shipman on Pearl Street in Brockville. He was a good natured Swede, six feet tall and said he worked on the B&W Railway. Police were unable to trace any relatives. (This was west of Brockville by Grants Creek)
On March 21, 1900 a family was discovered near Brockville, living in the utmost squalor. The father, mother, grandmother and eight children were living in a shack 10 feet by 15 feet. The only bedding they had were feed bags stolen from a farm. Their main meal was a soup made from boiling hay in water. The filth was terrible and all were infected by lice. They had no shoes and very little clothing. The father was taken to Brockville jail and the grandmother to the old folks’ home at Athens. Arrangements were made to find homes for the children, but when the constable went to get them, the grandmother hit him over the head with a stick of wood, inflicting a nasty wound, and he said he would never go back. It is said that when the children were washed and dressed, they were all good looking. The mother was given a job washing dishes at a hotel. The case made quite a stir in Brockville. No one can imagine how they survived the winter.
Lewis Darling aged 14 years was fatally shot at Butternut Bay on Oct 14, 1903.
While picking flowers at Fernbank a Brockville woman found a shoe box tied with string. Curiosity got the better of her and she opened it. She was horrified to find the body of a baby inside. Police were notified and their investigation disclosed that the baby had died at birth in February and the father took it into the woods to bury it, but the ground was frozen too hard so he left it on top of the ground and covered it with snow, intending to go back in the spring to bury it. When asked by the judge why he didn’t do so, he replied that he “hadn’t gotten around to it.”
On September 25, 1905 Lena Gill, 8, was found dead in a swamp near Brockville.
On September 4, 1919 Carmen Bresee, two year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Bresee, was drowned in a water tank in their farmyard. The child was only missed for a few minutes, but all efforts to revive him were in vain. (Bresee Farm was located on an old side road west of Grant’s Creek)
The two storey home of Mr. and Ms. Walter Hodge and their three children Gary, 9, Terry, 7, and Larry 1 ½ years was burned on February 14, 1963. The home on the Halleck’s Road was a complete loss with all contents. Mrs. Hodge was at work, the baby at a sitter, the other children at school. Mr.Hodge a night worker was asleep when he was awakened by a roar of the flames. He phoned a neighbour to bring a ladder as he was trapped by the fire, but by the time they arrived with the ladder he had jumped from an upstairs window into a snow bank.
On February 14, 1963 fire destroyed the home of Mr. and Mrs. Jebbel Vanderveld at Sharpe’s Lane, Brockville. The couple and their ten children were left homeless and only a few possessions were saved. The family was seated at lunch when a neighbour, Nancy Gates ran in to tell them the upper story of the house as on fire.
A well equipped garage owned by a car dealer Ben Foley at Long Beach on No. 2 Highway was burned on March 19, 1963. A new Thunderbird was lost as well as a lot of tools and equipment.
The home of Mr. and Mrs. Roosevelt Shipman was burned on December 14, 1964 on Highway 2 at Long Beach. Homeless are Mr. and Mrs. Shipman, their son Borden, a widower and his three children ten, six and four. Mr. and Mrs. Shipman were at work and Borden who works nights saw his two eldest children off to school and went back to bed. He was awakened by the cries of his son, and had to escape the flames by crawling out a window to the porch roof from where they were rescued. Nothing was saved.
A frame bungalow on the Tincap- Fairfield east road owned by Mr. and Ms. Clarence Gardiner was burned in 1964. Mr. Gardiner was visiting his wife and infant daughter at the Brockville General Hospital and their two children Theresa, 4, and Cheryl, 2, were with their grandmother, Mrs. Roy Gardiner across the road. Nothing was saved from the home.
Raymond Willie, 22, was killed by a train at Halleck’s Crossing March 27, 1966.
The Cirtwell Auto Parts building on No.2 Highway at Halleck’s Road was burned on February 2, 1967. Total loss was estimated at $40,000.
On July 11, 1967, Barbara Jan Durham aged 10 was drowned in a quarry on Howard Road near Lyn. Her home was at Heuvelton, NY.
Barry Arnold Slate, 19, of Brockville was killed on June 2, 1968 when a car in which he was a passenger crashed into a rock cut on the Lyn Road near Burnbrae Farm. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Edson Slate of Brockville.
Mrs. Margaret June Shannon, 29, of Sharpe’s Lane was fatally injured when struck by a car near her home on March 11, 1969. She was walking with a friend Mrs. Barbara Kirby when the car ran her down. The car did not stop and was later found to have been stolen from Ottawa that afternoon. Mrs. Shannon died in hospital three hours after she was struck. She is survived by two sons, Stephen 10, and Kevin, 8, her husband Ronald, her parents Mr. and Mrs. Herman Leizert, three sisters and seven brothers.
The Eskay Henderson Printing Shop at Long Beach was destroyed by fire on January 11, 1970. Loss estimated at $20,000. was only partially covered by insurance,