Greenbush (Old’s Corners)
The lure of a fresh spring in the Canadian wilderness led to the founding of this community. In 1790, an 18 year old immigrant, whose family tree could be traced back to France of the 16th Century trekked overland from his home in Andover, Massachusetts with his bride, and after a hazardous journey reached the future site of Greenbush.
His name was Jean (John) Saigon Blanchard. His bride was Abigail Waite born at Wickford, Rhode Island in 1767, the daughter of Rev. William Waite and his wife Mary Nichols Waite. The Blanchards reached Leeds County by way of Hartford, Conn., New York and Oswegatchie (Ogdensburg). They were ferried across the river to Maitland. At Maitland, young Blanchard was told by surveyors of “a beauty spot by a spring in the forest”. The surveyors supplied young Blanchard with a crude map and they headed north from what was later to be know as Brockville. They journeyed by covered wagon along a trail through what are now the hamlets of Forthton and Addison and east along a path through the forest. They found their spring at the rear of Lot 27 in the Eighth Concession of Elizabethtown. They later told relatives that it took “many days to clear a passage to the spring. We encountered many friendly Indians. They were friends indeed for there was no white man near or far.”
Before winter, John Blanchard had his home built and a stable ready for his oxen. They were 100 percent self supporting but had to subsist the first year on wild pigeon, wild game and fish.
The name Greenbush was imported by the original settler, John Saigon Blanchard, in 1790, from his old family plantation in Massachusetts which was knows as Greenbush. When Blanchard carved out his homestead here he gave the area its name.
Truelove Manhard, who wed Lucy White was a pioneer tanner in Greenbush. The Manhards were wed on March 14, 1831 and settled in Greenbush. There Truelove launched the district’s first tannery and boot shop. The shop prospered and later Manhard put up a stone building to house his business. He subsequently sold his factory to James White a brother of Lucy. Lucy died July 19, 1843 and lies in the Greenbush Cemetery.
Moses Olds, United Empire Loyalists, had been granted land on the Rideau in 1804, but was dissatisfied with his holdings. So he sold his grant and moved to Greenbush following his friend John Blanchard.
Few people know that the idea for the famous Oldsmobile cars of the early part of the 1900’s probably originated here in Greenbush. Moses Olds settled here in 1804, one of his sons James born in 1828 moved to the United States around 1880, and 20 years later his son Ranson E. Olds built the first Oldsmobile. It is possible the idea for a horseless carriage was instilled in the Olds family by the success of the old time carriage makers who ran flourishing businesses here in the 1850’s.
The old Greenbush General Store was founded by John Blanchards son H.W. Blanchard in 1836, and since that time has seen a number of changes in ownership. The original building was burned about 115 years ago. The old general store sold a bit of everything that a rural community needed. The general store also acted as the Greenbush Post Office. The first Postmistress was Adelaide Blanchard Loverin. She was a great grand daughter of John Saigon Blanchard. The post office was phased out in the 1930’s after development of rural mail routes cut down on their usage. Very little money passed hands in the early days of the store. They took in produce for payment for goods. Wheat at 50¢ a bushel, oats for 20¢ a bushel, butter at 10¢ a pound and eggs at 6¢ a dozen. They also took in hemlock bark drawing it to Lyn where it was sold for $2. a chord. As a point of reference cows were worth about $12. each.
In 1861 Greenbush boasted Taylor’s Tannery, Connor’s Shoe Shop, a Black Smithy, General Store, Post Office, John White’s inn and hotel, Wesleyan Methodist Church; Flannigan’s Cooperage where barrels for arms were made, a sawmill, and Blanchard’s Carriage works.
A cheese factory was opened in 1863 with Daniel Blanchard as owner and cheese maker.
Greenbush became a temperance centre in the years 1843-45, and Squire Hiram White Blanchard organized a lodge of the Independent Order of Good Templars, a temperance society. He provided lodge rooms over the general store that he was operating.
The first school here was built in 1840 at the junction of the Addison-Rocksprings Road. The teacher was Sarah Taggart. The second teacher was Lucinda Keller, who boarded with her own parents and was paid a salary of $5. per month. In 1845 fire destroyed the school. A new school went up in 1848 and served the area until it was torn down in 1919. It was then replaced with a brick school which was used until phased out in the 1960’s. (for more information and photos see Greenbush – a one room schoolhouse in Elizabethtown)
(Recorder and Times, Darling Scrapbook Book 3)
Old Greenbush School (photo #9)
Wesleyan Methodist Church- Construction of this church began in 1828 and it was completed in 1833. Services were held as early as 1931, before the floor was put in. The land however was not officially sold to the trustees until February 1842 by James Olds. The stone was quarried and donated by Sylvanus Keeler who settled in Concession 9 lots 23 and 24 in 1826. The church was built as a community church to be used by Methodists, Quakers and Bible Christians.
“Originally it looked like a New York meeting hall, with square windows top and bottom, which can be seen as soldier courses. Inside it had a raised pulpit and a three sided balcony and could seat over 300 people, more than the entire population. In the 1880’s it was modernized and ‘Gothicized’ with pointed windows and interior remodeling. The Greenbush congregation was active in the religious and temperance revivals of the 19th Century, and in the 1880’s had a significant role in the creation of Canada’s ‘Social Gospel’ which stressed human relations and helping the less fortunate. The preacher was Salem Bond, a young ‘heretic’ who had been ‘rusticated’ by the Methodist Church and sent to Elizabethtown to think about his sins. Instead he wrote : The New Christianity. In 1967, the United Church closed hundreds of small rural churches throughout Canada. The Greenbush Church was closed for ten years until it was sold into private hands” (Elizabethtown: The Last of the Royal Townships, by Alvyn Austin pub 2009)
The old Greenbush Cemetery last used for internments in the early 1950’s was established more than 150 years ago. Surveyor Henry Little laid out the burial ground with its 66 plots at the request of Daniel Blanchard, descendant of the pioneers who settled Greenbush.(for more information and photos see Cemeteries in Elizabethtown – Greenbush)
Greenbush is located at the intersection of County Road 7 and where the Greenbush and Jellyby Roads meet
The White’s of Greenbush
After farming and establishing the Hamlet of White’s Corners, the descendants of James White and Anna Pearson moved to Greenbush
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.
The Greenbush United Church was built in built in 1833. James Olds a Quaker donated the land; John Keller, a son of Rev. Sylvanus Keller, quarried the stone for the church and drew it to the site. When first built, the church had galleries on each side and had 21 windows. In 1886 the galleries were taken down, and the windows reduced to ten. An adjoining hall was also built in that year. The Quakers as well as the Methodists used the church. When the 50th Anniversary was observed in 1883, the minister was Rev. Dr. Salem Bland. And at the 100th year observance, the minister was Rev. R.H. Whiteside. In 1925 the United Church of Canada took over and the church remained active for many years, until 1969 when it was closed, and the majority of the congregation transferred to Addison United Church.
The first school in Greenbush was built of logs in 1835. The first teacher was Miss. Sarah Taggart, a sister of Rev. Charles Taggart, the minister of the Methodist Church. The second teacher was Miss. Lucinda Keller who was paid $5. a month. In 1843 and 1844 the teacher was Miss. Orpha Ellmore. She was called the Temperance teacher as she hated liquor, and spent some time each day instructing her pupils on the evils of drink. In 1845 the school ws burned and there was no school for two months until the upper flat of the grocery store was fixed up for her classes and Adaline Kilborne was hired to teach. The next year school was held in a house owned by A. Root, and the first male teacher W. Landon was hired. He only stayed three months and later a house owned by W.G. Olds was used as a school with Miss Allison of Augusta as a teacher. In 1848 a stone school was built on the site of the first school. Dward Barry was the stone mason and Sam Prey was the carpenter.
A grand picnic for the Olds and Blanchard families and their relatives was held at Greenbush on July 12, 1901 with 92 persons present. The weather was perfect and the table fairly groaned with food. Some came from New York State and Michigan. These are descendants of John and Aaron Blanchard and Moses Olds who came to Canada from Vermont in 1787. By honesty and industry, both families have prospered and all own property and have comfortable homes. All are staunch temperance people and teetotalers. Some of the Blanchard’s belong to the Society of Friends and most of the Olds are Methodists. James Olds donated the land for the Greenbush Methodist Church and helped to build it.
A raging fire fed by strong winds destroyed J.W. Hanna’s sawmill, shingle mill and box factory at Greenbush on March 22, 1906 at 10 pm. Nothing was saved. Also lost was 2,500 feet of lumber, 200 apple boxes, 300 cheese boxes, 900 bushel measures, 5,000 cedar shingles, all ordered and ready to ship as well as all the machinery. Mr. Hanna had no insurance. Over 1,000 logs in the yard were not harmed. Mr.Hanna says he will rebuild. A collection is being raised which already amounts to $200.
Alba Roots Mill at Greenbush burned April 18, 1906.
On April 17, 1915 three young me from Greenbush went fishing in Mud Creek. They were Norman Connell and his brother Wesley, and William Fitzgerald. They fished for a while with no success and Norman said he was going further up the creek in an old boat pulled up on the shore. He went in spite of his friends warnings that the boat was not safe. After he had gone out of sight they heard hi shout, and they ran along the bank trying to see him. But their calls were not answered and they ran home for help. His body was found the next day.
On February 15, 1958 a large barn on Harold Hall’s farm at Greenbush was destroyed by fire of unknown origin. Lost in the flames were 25 Holstein cows, 30 pigs and 3 calves, also several cats. Six heifers in a building near the barn were saved.
On August 17, 1959 Steven James McIntyre, 11, of Greenbush was killed in a tractor accident.
On September 1, 1964 a machine shed operated on the farm of Omer and Allan Kilborn at Greenbush was burned. The shed was full of farm machinery and all was lost. The Elizabethtown Volunteer Fire Department was able to save the Coville home nearby he cause of the fire is not known.
A large barn and stable on the farm of Herb Vogel at Greenbush was burned on January 26, 1969. All the milking cows were driven out into the cold with difficulty, but a few head of young cattle and calves were lost. It was 14 below zero at the time. Elizabethtown firefighters fought the blaze for several hours as the large quantity of hay took a long time to burn.
An 18 year old youth Michael Berniques was killed on the Greenbush Road just off Highway 29 on April 28, 1969 when a timber jack he was operating overturned, pinning him underneath it, crushing him to death. He was engaged in the clearing operations for the new Golden Triangle Trap and Skeet Club.
The home of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Graham and their 14 year old son Mansell at Greenbush was burned to the ground on November 24, 1969. The owner of the house was Red Scott of Athens.
On August 20, 1970 a large stone farmhouse at Greenbush was burned after it was struck by lightening. The home was a landmark known as the Welt Davis place and was owned by Paul Foster. Two fire departments from Elizabethtown and Kitley fought the fire in a loosing battle.