She is probably the oldest resident of the north riding—known by the familiar name of Mrs. Eliza Smith, who resides with her son, Mr. Thos. Smith, of Lanark township. This lady has attained the remarkable
age of almost one hundred years.
Mrs. Smith was born September 15th, 1799 (only nine years alter the Rev. T. Wesley died), in the county of Carlow, Ireland. At a glance one will see that the period which this lady’s life covers stretches over one of the most important eras that ever dawned upon the world. Born twenty-one
years before our gracious Queen, she has lived to see the greatest development in the way of science, commerce and invention that ever transpired.
She crossed the Atlantic (via Quebec) in the year 1820, at the age of twenty one. The voyage then was not accomplished so expeditiously as in our day.
Her lot was cast in a time when it took a couple of months or more to cross
over to this country. Steam power was then practically in its embryonic state) and was made little use of to propel the ships across the sea.
Accordingly she was nine weeks in crossing the ocean, and with the poor facilities obtainable in those days she and her parents (Mr. and Mrs. Tennant) made their way, as best they could from Montreal to Upper Canada, and settled in North Lanark, where they resided.
After a brief stay in the township of Ramsay they took up their abode in Lanark township, and hewed out for themselves a home in the dense
forests that then spread over this vast continent. Soon after her parents had
settled down she got married to Mr. James Smith. The nuptial ceremony
was performed in the city of Ogdensburg, N.Y., by the English church
clergyman stationed there, he being the nearest available clergyman.
Her husband died her and the marriage was blessed by the birth of fourteen children, eight of whom were sons. In. the order of their
birth we give their names/sons: George, Joseph, Richard, James, Thomas,
John, Robert and Charles. Names of daughters : Ann (Mrs. Young), Sarah
(Mrs. John Smith), Eliza (Mrs. Anthony Woods), Mary (Mrs. Chas. Finlay son), Frances (at home), and Catherine (Mrs. Robert Watchorn). Four
of the sons died early— George, Richard, John and Robert; but all the
daughters remained living.
The number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren is remarkable. In 1898 she had fifty-nine grandchildren, and forty-three great-grandchildren— in all one hundred and sixteen children (including those of the third generation). Her oldest great-grandson was twenty-six years of age, and lives at Micksburg, in Renfrew county. So far as nature is concerned, another generation in this wonderful family might easily have been represented ; and who knows that even yet the-fifth might be represented before she closes her eyes in death.
The eldest daughter is seventy-seven years of age. One very interesting
thing about the old lady is that, even at her great age, she is able to read her
Bible and Prayer-Book without the aid of glasses, and can take a better
morning’s walk than many twenty years her junior. She has the use of her
faculties to a surprising degree, and so far as appearances go the venerable
woman is likely to see the dawn of “the coming century”.
The writer is informed that only one day before the “centenary party” of this lady was held a month or so ago, she hemmed a handkerchief by hand and without the aid of glasses, and did it as well as any young woman could have done.
For fear, however, that a breakdown should be nearer than is expected, the
centenary party mentioned above was held to commemorate the hundredth
year of this old lady. Over one hundred relatives and friends were invited
An immense table, richly spread with dainties of every kind, was erected in
a building adjoining the house, and there the gladsome crowd satiated their
tempted appetites. Mrs. Smith was able to sit at the head of the table, to
participate in many of the good things, and to cast a matriarchal glance down the ranks that lined the table.
After the repast, by special appointment, Messrs. Benoit & Richards, photographers, Carleton Place, took a portrait of the centenarian. A portrait of the entire group (about 120 in all) was also taken, after which, at the request of Mrs. Smith, there was some singing, and prayers were offered up by her clergyman, Rev. J. Fairburn, who, together with his wife and daughter, were among the invited guests.
The old lady and her family are devoted members of the Church of England.
At one time (during the Rev. Mr. Boswell’s and Rev. Mr. Mulock’s times) she and her family used to attend St. John’s church, Innisville, but subsequently they attended the old St. George’s church (alias the Bowland
church). At present they belong to Grace church congregation, Clayton, to
which church the family now comes.
Mrs. Smith is the oldest member (by many years) of this church, and whenever a new church is built at Clayton we doubt not but that a handsome memorial donation will be given in her behalf. We cannot conclude this little memo of her life without wishing her the very best of Christmas joys, hoping that she may be spared longer.