When Elizabethtown was settled by United Empire Loyalist after the American Revolution, not everyone settled along the shores of the St. Lawrence River.
Some were given lots in the untamed, forested wilderness in the rear of Elizabethtown, far from the river. They had to make their way with their families and belongings along Indian paths and streams to reach their new homesteads.
Their first homes were small and made from logs cut down on the land that they were granted. Families and friends settled together and from these groups of homes future hamlets would arise. Some are still there today while others have vanished and left behind only stories of their once thriving communities.
Some of the names of these old hamlets have changed over time. Those names once reflected the first settlers to the area.
We will be exploring the origins of these hamlets in words and photos. If anyone reading these articles has information or photos that they would like to share we would appreciate hearing from you. Together we can enrich our history.
When the tannery owned by Henry Booth was in operation, the flat south of the village was covered with hemlock bark brought in by the farmers in the winter. This bark was used in the tanning of hides and some of the residue was used in insulating homes. The soil on this flat is still made up of hemlock bark. (J.McCrady) (1)
The home now owned by Mr.& Mrs. Charles Cross was at one time a bake shop in which Mr. Serviss baked bread. Mr. Serviss was assisted in starting in business by Mr. James Cumming who gave him his first flour. Mr. Serviss’ son Dick peddled the bread around the village and surrounding area with a horse and wagon (sleigh in the winter). The bread was sold unwrapped.(1)
The next bake shop was owned by Wilfred Coon who baked in the shop where Mr.Serviss did, but sold the bread from a store under the Oddfellow’s Hall.(1)
There were several cheese factories in and around Lyn. One stone building, still standing is on the Centennial (Howard) Road on the Howard (Pietersma) Farm. It was one of the first. Two miles west of the village was the Union Cheese Factory.(2)
The first flour mill was located in a large building on Main St. East, which was burned. After closing this flour mill the building housed the Post Office and a store run by Omer Mallory, and later by Mr. Walter Billings. (1)
By 1860 R.Coleman & Co. had built the 5 story mill in the Lyn Valley. The Lyn Manufacturing Co. larger than anything ever attempted in Eastern Ontario. There was a 50’ drop from Lyn Mill Pond down to this facility where it powered 5 separate mill operations including Grist; Saw and Tanneries. The flour mill produced 300 bags a day of several different brands of flour.(3)
Shoe Factory, Tannery and other buildings were destroyed by fire in 1914(1)
The first store seems to have been run by a druggist named Mr. A.T.Trickey. Mr. Gardner bought the store from Mr. Trickey in 1885, he was not a druggist so he hired Mr. C.M.Taylor who later became his son-in-law. The store was then sold to the McCrady family. (2)
Lowell’s Directory for 1871 listed the following businesses:
Bulloch Coleman- manufacture of lasts, boot trees, pegs and dies, decoy ducks etc.
James Coleman- Harness Maker
Erastus Cook- manufacture
J.Cooper & Co. sheepskin tannery
Ambrose Curtis – Miller
Horton & Taylor – Hub and spoke makers
Hover and Co- Vulcanite rubber comb works
Lyn Flour and Grist Mills
George McNish – Iron Foundry
Horace E.Rowe – Chinese Blood and Liver Syrups
William Thompson- Carriage Maker
Henry Lee- Butcher
S.B.William – Cheesemaker (2)
HowardCemetery: off of the Centennial (Howard) Road. At the Parslow Road. Early stones in this cemetery were made of marble as granite was not used until after 1810.
FulfordPioneerCemetery (Fulford Point Road): Dedicated approximately 1786. This cemetery is one of the earliest cemeteries in Leeds County; One of the earliest burial grounds of United Empire Loyalists in the Region.
The land was given by Jonathan Fulford, born in Wallingford, Connecticut and was a Sergeant in Jessup’s Corps. He was granted 108 acres of land on Lot 28 in Concession 1, Elizabethtown. John and Jacob Elliot shared Lot 29, Adam Cole had Lot 31 and Lot 30 went to Thomas Sparham. Lots were drawn from a hat, not chosen.
The first grave in the burial ground was Jonathan’s infant son, on June 7th, 1786. Families using this private burial ground have been descendants of Jonathan Fulford, and shared by the Cole family. Jonathan’s sister, Thankful Fulford, married Adam Cole before the war, which suggests that Cole also came from Connecticut. Cole was a private in Jessup’s Corps. Through intermarriage, the families of John and Jacob Elliot also used the burial ground. Robinsons are also buried there.
LynCemetery: Located behind St.John’s Anglican Church, it was dedicated sometime around 1790. The oldest known stone in the cemetery marks Able Coleman’s grave and reads “In memory of Able Coleman who departed this life in full assurance of eternal life”(1765-1810)
YongeMillsCemetery: Surrounds the little stone church. It was built in 1837 on land donated by Peter Purvis. When the Grand Trunk Railway was built the tracks were laid right through the middle of the cemetery. (located west of Lyn)
OaklandCemetery: Located on Hwy #2 just west of the Lyn Road is the main cemetery for this area.
Bricks from the Methodist Church blown down in a severe windstorm on Jan 21 1890 were used in the building of the GlenBuell Church in 1890. The old Methodist Church on the hill was blown away, all that is left is the spire, part of the church being carried across the road into Cumming’s orchard.(1)
The facts about the earliest church are unclear but there seems to have been a small log church called Union or perhaps St.Paul’s, just east of the present St.John the Baptist Church. Various denominations used this facility.(2)
The Methodists seem to have been the first to build a church. Eventually there were two Methodists Churches in Lyn, one a brick church at the top of the hill, and the other near the stone school house on Main St. The Episcopal Methodist Church blew down in a severe storm and the one still stands and was transferred to St. Andrews R.C. Church in 1965 (Now Closed) (cor of Church and Main Sts.)(2)
The Presbyterian congregation got under way in the early 1800’s. The first services were held in Brownson’s Hotel in Lyn. (2)
Anglican Church- a site was chosen in 1859 and the land obtained through the generosity of James Coleman. Construction began in 1860 but as halted due to financial problems. In 1869 it was completed and dedicated.
Electricity was brought to Lyn in 1929. This meant the discarding of the old coal-oil lamps.(1)
Lyn Band- was a well know and popular band. They played at most affairs in and around Lyn but would go as far as Frankville, Mallorytown and to Morristown, NY. They had a band wagon pulled by two mules. The band seems to have disbanded sometime after 1911.(2)
Clows Band was another popular group who entertained at many gay functions (2)
Stack’s Hotel on Main Street, a large three story brick and stone building.
It burned down and is no longer there.
The Coleman at 5&7 Main St across from the pump. Construction was started in 1911 and finished in 1912. It was used by commuters on the B&W RR. Charlie Lewis built the front porch from used cedar from a caboose. The stone part of the house (The back addition) was used as a kitchen. The stable which is now gone had a hired hands quarters for people arriving by horse. Which was included in their lodging as well as their meal. Know as the oldest building in Lyn 1814,
The Brownson’s which became the Glasford House which became the Willson Hotel cor. of Main and Perth St. (built in 1814)
The Ross House location unknown, information from newspaper ad dated April 1874.
A by-law passed in 1912 by the Counties Council elected Lyn into a Police Village (1)
The original name was “Coleman’s Corners”, this was changed in 1837 to Lowell because some of the early settlers came from Lowell, Mass. It was then discovered that there was another Lowell in Ontario. The name of “Lyn” was then chosen as descriptive of the natural setting. The clear streams of water used to drive the mill wheels suggested a Welsh or Scottish word “Linn” – a pool, a stream or cascade. (2)
The Billings Pyrite Mine on the Chemical Road (Old Red Road) was perhaps the largest. The Shipman Mine on Halleck’s Road was another producer of pyrite but it was short lived due to the high pyrrhotite content which was an undesirable mineral and the short mining season. The Brockville Chemical & Superphosphate Co. at the foot of Ford St. in Brockville converted the pyrites into sulphuric acid, fertilizer and dynamite and was a pioneer in the “lead chamber process” for the distilling of sulphuric and hydrochloric acids. (c1850)
Dr. George W.Judson a physician who practiced at Westport, Lyn and Athens was born in Kitley in 1856. He died in 1924. (1)
Richard Coleman, who played a leading part in the development of Lyn died in 1861 at age 72 (1)
Walter K.Billings, a prominent Lyn Merchant and author of “How Dear to My Hear’ was born in 1871 (1)
Anson Andrew McNish 1878 to 1959 He was born in Lyn the only son of George Peter McNish (1838-1914) and Catherine E. Manhard (1843-1893). Anson married Antoinette “Nettie” Brookman (1874-1944) of Brooklyn, NYC. They had one daughter Florence Catherine born in 1913 in Weston, Ontario who unfortunately died at the age of 15 in 1928 in Fultonville, NY.
Anson is important to our history because he was an amateur photographer and through his lens has given us some of the earliest and best preserved photos of Lyn and the places he lived and visited. His attention to detail and the composition of his photos, considering the photographic equipment he had available to him, is incredible
Able Coleman died April 25, 1810 (3)
RCMP Const. Douglas Scott of Lyn was shot and killed in the Baffin Island hamlet of Kimmirut in 2007. The park and ball diamond on Main Street was named in his honour.
The first post office was established in Lyn in 1851 (2)
CenteenPark: Centennial Park Opened Nov 18 1967
With Solemn dedication followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony one of Elizabethtown’s two Centennial parks was officially opened Saturday. Prefaced by a grand parade and other carnival activities in the village of Lyn, the opening ceremony drew a large crowd.
LynValley Conservation Area: What used to be an old sand and gravel quarry has been turned into an attractive and very functional swimming and recreation spot for everyone’s enjoyment. Featuring a swimming area, known locally as Lyn Pit, complete with sandy beach and changing facilities, the swimming area
in the Lyn Valley Conservation Area is the perfect location for a day at the beach. Picnic facilities are available next to the water.
The toll gates on the Lyn Road were removed on January 1st, 1911(1)
The toll gate was located where Burnbrae Farms now stands. The charge at the toll gate was one way 3 cents and 5 cents return. (2)
The Lyn Road which passes through Lyn as Main Street was important during the war of 1812 as the main artery between Brockville and Kingston (via Yonges Mills)
A deed registered in 1852 showed that Richard Coleman had water rights on Lyn Pond (it bordered Main Street, where the ball park now resides). People owning land in the country leading to the pond had to give the Colemans the privilege of flooding the land to the high water mark. Temperance Lake which was the headwater was kept full by a dam. When opened the water flowed into Centre Lake and then to Lee Pond. There was another dam which when opened allowed the water to flow from Centre Lake into Graham Lake. A gate at Lee Pond allowed the water level in the Lyn Pond to be controlled. A man made ditch was dug between Lee Pond and the Lyn Pond. (2)
Richard Coleman II was the mastermind behind buying up land and creating a watershed in the surrounding area to feed water to his mills. He started in the 1840’s by buying an existing mill on Temperance Lake, about 15 miles north which controlled the flow of water into the Gananoque River. Coleman did not purchase the mill to use, but to block the stream and reverseits’ current, he bought another mill at McIntosh Mills south of Athens, there he built what was officially called the March (or marsh) Bridge Dam, a half mile bridge of grass covered masonry.
This Marsh Bridge dam shut off the supply of water that ran between McIntosh Mills and Temperance Lake which created Graham Lake a large pond seven miles long and Centre Lake (also known as Stump Lake). The next undertaking was to cut a canal between them, 15’ wide and 10’ deep to create East Lake (Lee’s Pond) a 600 acre reservoir which would feed the millpond in the village of Lyn (Lyn Pond) (3)
Temperance Lake is named after a group of temperance minded people who started and operated mills at the mouth of the lake previous to 1840.(1)
Centennial Park: A mill stone recovered from the original flour mill built in 1859 was incorporated in the wall in front of the Centennial Park built beside the old fire hall in Lyn in 1967 (D.R.McCrady)(1)
1- Taken from notes found in the Lyn Museum
2- Lyn 1784-1984 by Mary G.Robb
3- Elizabethtown: The Last of the Royal Townships by Alvyn Austin
In 1997 the street commissioners of the village of Lyn heard that the old Stewart’s Garage on the Main Street was for sale and thought that it would be a good thing for the village to purchase it and fix it up as a museum for area artifacts and meeting rooms. After much researching of this possibility, it was turned down by the Township Council and the idea was dropped at that time.
The building, about 150 years old, was in very bad shape. Then came the ice storm of 1998 and the roof of the bus garage at the back fell in and the Township was putting pressure on the owner to tear the building down. About fifty pigeons had made their home in the main garage and most of the upper windows were broken.
In the spring of 1999, a Village Trustee talked to the owners of the building, Dale and Ron Howard of Howard Bus Lines, and was offered an exceptional deal on this property for the village.
This information was brought to the Lyn Days Committee, and everyone agreed that they should check into the possibility of the Lyn Days Committee acquiring the property.
The Lyn Days Committee talked to the owners and learned that there was a very involved title to the property to straighten out. The committee decided to acquire the property.
In early August the committee was assured the property would indeed be transferred. At a meeting in early August 1999 it was decided the property should be registered to a committee of five people in trust for Lyn Days and on August 25th, 1999 the title to the building was transferred to the committee.
On August 30th,1999 volunteers started cutting brush and clearing up the junk on the property. They were soon joined by several other volunteers, machines and trucks. Part of the old bus barn was demolished with a large area of the building being repaired. Work was then begun on the old main garage building to turn it into the main building of museum.