Questions questions… Robert J. Stead — Boyd’s Settlement and Rathwell

Questions questions… Robert J. Stead — Boyd’s Settlement and Rathwell

Hello I have some questions for you…

What do you know about Robert J. Stead? He built the house at 109 George Street in Lanark. Robert J. Stead who was a photographer and his two twin daughters built this house and we would like to know the history of it. Does anyone know the history of the house?


Transcribed and submitted by Del Dunlop from LCGS

Death of Robt. J. Stead.
           After an illness of four years Mr. Robert J. Stead passed peacefully away at his residence in Lanark Village last Friday afternoon, August 22nd (1919). The late Mr. Stead who succumbed to chronic Brights disease, was born in Middleville seventy four years ago on the homestead now occupied by Mr. Harry Rodger. In 1865 he married Miss Malvina Millotte who with a family of six survives him, Robert and Mrs. C. Calhoun at home, Mrs. T. A. Mason in Lanark, Mrs. M. Cleave at Selkirk, Manitoba, Mrs. A. B. Adamson and Miss Edna Stead at Winnipeg, Manitoba. For over thirty years Mr. Stead was a capable photographer and bee-keeper in the Village and for a number of years served as a councillor. Later he was nominated Reeve of the Village of Lanark. Mr. Stead is one of Lanark’s oldest residents and was a man very highly esteemed and respected by everyone. In politics he was a Liberal and in religion was a staunch Presbyterian. The funeral took place on Sunday, August 24th at 2.30 p.m., from his former residence to Lanark Village Cemetery and was largely attended.
           In the 1871 census Robert J. Stead is listed in Lanark Village, aged 25. He is a photographer.
           Robert Stead is listed on the Militia Roster of 1871 as living in Lanark Village and being 25 years of age.
           When the last of the Gemmell line died in 1938, A drawer of glass plates was removed from their house at Pine Grove. These plates could only have been the negatives from the archives of the late local photographer Robert J. Stead.

Robert J. Stead was born in 1845.1 He was the son of Robert Stead and Margaret Dick.1
Robert J. Stead married Malvina Milotte on 25 December 1865, at, Lanark, .1
Robert J. Stead died in 1919, at LANARK CO. ONTARIO.1

Children of Robert J. Stead and Malvina Milotte

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
27 Aug 1919, Wed  •  Page 1

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
23 May 1900, Wed  •  Page 1

2. What do you know about Boyd’s settlement  in Innsville ontario.?

Perth Courier, October 24, 1946

History of Boyd’s Settlement

The following sketch was prepared by Mrs. Wesley Willows and Mrs. Earl Willows is an outline of the early history of Boyd’s Settlement in Lanark Township a few miles from Innisville.

A tribute to the past

A record for the present

A message for posterity

In the year 1815 a proclamation was issued in England which greatly affected the lives of many British subjects and the history of the new world.  This proclamation offered free passage to such natives of Great Britain as might wish to set sail for Canada for the purpose of settling there.  Free provisions as an inducement were also offered until such time as the land which they were given would produce enough to support them.  Besides this they were to be given ten pounds as a loan.  Each group of four families were to receive a grindstone, a cross cut saw, and whip saw.  To each family was given an adze, a hand saw, draw knife, one shell augur, two gimlets, door lock and hinges, scythe and snath, reaping hook, two hoes, one hay fork, skillet, camp kettle, one blanket for each member of the family.

This process was eagerly read by man in the old land. The old system of land holding was oppressive and the people knew little of freedom or equality.  As a result, the younger and more adventurous thought with longing of the new world.  It would appear that many who were friends in Ireland must have come to Canada within a short time of each other and gathered in communities together.

They landed at Montreal and came on to Brockville by steamboat or scows towed by oxen.  They probably crossed the Rideau at Rideau Ferry as that was the only crossing place along that part of the river.  It is likely that they also passed through Perth.

An ocean voyage took at least seven weeks and parcels and letters took a endless time to reach the new world.  The immigrants were crowded into the holds of ships and deplorable sanitation added to the discomfort and disease.  Ship fever broke out and took a heavy toll.  Of 100,000 immigrants coming to Canada, it is estimated that 5,000 died at sea and 20,000 after landing at St. John, Quebec and Montreal.

The original settlement of Lanark township was commenced in 1820 and was marked by a piece of paper nailed to a tree on the side of a street in the present village of Lanark.  On this piece of paper were the words “This is Lanark”.  In the same year Boyd’s settlement was opened to settlers.  The first home was begun by Sam Boyd, unmarried, who settled in the field now south of the present cheese factory house.  It was a square built house with a roof going up to a square instead of the usual ridge.  John Boyd, his brother, whose wife died at sea, settled where his great grandson Franklin Boyd now lives.  Henry Hammond and wife Margaret Boyd (sister of the Boyd men), settled on the farm now owned by Mr. and Mrs. William Crosswell.  Andrew Stevenson and wife Mary Boyd lived on the farm now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Ed Ventress.  Foster Stern, married Jane Boyd and settled on a farm on the town line now owned by Clifford Hammond.  George Code married Sara Boyd and lived on what is now Russell Willows’ farm.  This George Code is the son of the Code family which lived on the farm now owned by Oscar Ventress.  There were many brothers and sisters in the family and they make many an interesting story but we need only think of those who lived right here in the settlement.  Another brother lived on the present Munro farm.  The last Code on the old homestead was Thomas Nancable Code.  He was musical and conducted a singing school and led the church choir for many years.

There were also two Jackson brothers –one was Thomas Jackson who married Rachel Code and lived where Clifford Hammond now resides.  Some of their descendents are Robert of Vancouver, Judge Arthur Jackson who recently retired from the bench in Toronto and Bessie (Mrs. Sher. (?) Willows) of Calgary.  There are also Nellie, wife of John Tennant.  Lantrim Jackson married Erlen(?) Ennis and settled where Earl Willows now lives.  They were the grandparents of Mrs. Alfred Hammond, Colin and Wesley Willows—and many others too numerous to mention.

William and James Magee lived on farms later owned by William Bailey and now the property of William C. McCall.  It is believed that William D’Arcy Magee, one of the fathers of the Confederation, was a brother of these men.

The Wrights and Wellwoods lived on the 11th Line down near Mud Lake on land now owned by William S. Munro.  We have a story told by Thorpe Wright about the experience of his parents in crossing the water.  The vessel carried 341 passengers and no doctor.  Cholera broke out and 41 died and were buried at sea.  Mr. Wright was a tailor by trade and made the caps and gowns for students of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.  On the ship he sewed the dead bodies of the cholera victims up in blankets for burial.  Mrs. Wright fell ill and the ship’s captain was about to bleed her, which was the customary procedure.  Mr. Wright, who did not agree with this method of treatment, took his shears and fought off the captain.  His own treatment was to steam the patient.  This he did after he scared off the captain and his wife recovered.  The care of their infant child was thrust upon the tailor and he solved the food problem by preparing a mixture of powdered biscuit, sugar and water upon which the baby fed and thrived for three weeks.  The vessel, however, having hid one man, brought the epidemic to Quebec where thousands died and were buried in trenches on the Plains of Abraham.

After these settlers arrived, they found things were not as easy as they expected.  Provisions were not as easily obtained as promised.  The implements furnished were big and clumsy.  Even years later, when Henry Hammond had a daughter grown big enough to grow potatoes, she declared “it was a big enough job to carry the shovel let alone use it to dig the potatoes from among the roots of the trees.”  Mr. Hammond was the first to own a horse in the settlement and quite a novelty it was.  His son tells that he remembers the first dollar he saw.  It was obtained by shipping potash to England and the dollars were shipped back in payment.

Before coming to this new land, Sam Boyd was a teacher in Ireland.  It is also said that it was he who opened the first Methodist Sunday school in that part of Ireland.  After coming to Lanark township, he became a leader in the life of the community and it is believed that he may have been the first school master here.  When he came to this country, Sam Boyd left behind him a dear friend in the person of a young lady named Nancy.  It is said that he was quite sick and ailing much of his time until at last one day Nancy arrived from the old country.  After that Sam made a remarkable recovery and married his Nancy.

The first school was in the corner of the cemetery near Clifford Hammond’s fence.  It was the first school for miles around and as a result had a large attendance.  As many as 70-80 were enrolled.  The school was simply set down in the middle of the forest.  One day during the years when the school was under the direction of a school master named John Manley, a very fierce storm developed.  It was called “The Slash” because it ripped down a strip through the forest leaving a mass of tangled, twisted wreckage of trees, trunks etc., lying in its wake.  In the path of The Slash lay the school house.  When the storm subsided, Mrs. Lantrim Jackson hurried up to the school, terrified lest she find it in ruins.  To her surprise, she found the trees lying all around the school house but the building itself was not damaged.  Mr. Manley, a God fearing man, on seeing the storm sweeping down on them, dropped to his knees and prayed for Divine protection for the children in his care.  Later, John Manley became a preacher and was a minister in Toronto when 100 years old and died not so long ago.  He had gone to Toronto to be with other Manley families settled there—one of whom was the father of Laura Manley Secord of Beaver Dam fame.

The God fearing pioneers were not such as would leave their faith neglected in the new country.  In 1821 we find Rev. J.G Peale stationed at Perth and walking out to Boyd’s Settlement carrying his saddle bags on his back.  On his arrival he had services in the home of Henry Hammond.  From that time on services were held from shanty to shanty (as the homes then were called).  Then they met in the school house until the first church was built.

The first church in this district was built just inside the present cemetery gates.  The resolution passed at the time to decide to build a new church read in part as follows:  “we shall build a house of Divine Worship which shall be called the Jackson Street Methodist Church, 12th Concession Lanark, to be built of cedar logs 26×36 feet inside.  The building committee to be F. Stern, Andrew Stevenson, William McGee, and Thomas Jackson”.  Another resolution read as follows:  “The meeting house on the 12th Concession Lanark, be open for the Church of England, Presbyterian, Baptist and Quakers when not occupied by the Methodists”.

Much more could be told of the early history of Boyd’s Settlement, but it would make this story cumbersome.  However, in conclusion, we might say that in many communities, the earliest settlers thought that they required stimulants to give them strength for their heavy duties.  It was not so much in this settlement.  The earliest settlers of Boyd’s were a temperate class.  People who lived to bring in the Kingdom of God in their community and today we are reaping the fruits of their labors and that of their children.

What do you know about Abel Rathwell?

The only Rathwells I have are –The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 26- Mary Rathwell and Eleanor Ennis

Oh I forgot do you know anything about a Samuel Rathwell who lived on Clarence Street in Lanark– CLICK ON—Samuel Rathwell Geneaology– Looking for Information

You can try these three places…

Archives Lanark-

How To Contact Us

By Email at:

By Post to:
Archives Lanark
P.O. Box 20146
PERTH, Ontario
K7H 3M6

Or visit the Archives at
1920 Concession 7 Rd,
Drummond Centre

Lanark & District Museum

(613) 259-2575

Send message

Lanark County Genealogical Society

(613) 257-9482

Boyd’s cemetery

I was amazed that he knew of my family. It made me feel instantly at home. I rode over to the Boyds cemetery and visited with all the members of my family buried there. I sat there on a beautiful sunny day watching the butterflies flying around the headstones and I could feel their spirits. My great Uncle Edgar (my grandfather’s  youngest brother) had been buried there in 1991. I sat there for an hour contemplating. I then got on my motorcycle and rode in to Carleton Place. It had changed so much since 1981. I was determined to find your home if it still existed.

I knew that finding the railroad track was key to my finding Springside Hall. I found the track and parked my Harley and started walking. When I found your home I gasped. It was the home but it looked so different from my memory, the architecturally correct addition you had built was amazing. Of course the limestone fencing threw me for a loop. I walked slowly around the perimeter taking in the home. I stood at the front gate and admired your English garden and the front of Aunt May’s old home. I hadn’t noticed you gardening and when you stood up it startled me as I could tell I probably startled you. I uttered a quick hello and kept walking. An tall American standing and staring at a house in motorcycle garb could be disconcerting at the least. I went back to my bike and rode past your house once more. I told my wife I was a bit angry at myself for not asking the woman in the garden if you knew of my Aunt May and Uncle George. I am thankful to know that you do.

Kind regards,

Rick Finlayson  from-The Story of a Local Family -Finlayson- Richard Finlayson

Questions on the McCreary Settlement and the IXL Cheese Factory

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About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

2 responses »

  1. I just saw the photo of the house on 109 George St.
    My Father’s uncle Harold McPhee lived in that home for as long as I can remember, when he passed, i believe that his son Bob continued to live there. I am not sure who owns it now. I remember it as a kid…it had an outhouse, still had a handpump in the kitchen and it had a hosier which we thought was kinda cool.


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