An Interesting story, which records the heroism of some of the wives of the pioneer settlers. It was told many years ago by Jesse Trull, of Darlington township.
“My grandmother,” he said, “excelled in midwifery and the healing of the sick. Her services were frequently called on over a wide stretch of country, and, as there were at that time no bridges across the numerous streams flowing towards the lake, she many times had to swim her horse through them when on her missons of mercy ”
On one occasion the grandfather of S. Caldwell, of Hamilton township, near Cobourg, called upon her to visit a member of his family who was dangerously ill. The two set out together and arrived at the river at Port Hope just as night was falling. Mr. Caldwell had nearly lost his life in crossing the stream in daylight and he feared to make a fresh venture in the gathering darkness.
Not so Mrs. Trull.
She boldly drove her horse headlong into the water, breasted the swelling flood, and on arriving at the other side lit a pine torch with the flint she carried. By the fitful flame of the pitch pine, she followed the blazed trail in the woods for the rest of the journey all alone and arrived in time to save the life of her patient.”
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
17 Mar 1900, Sat • Page 2
From 1887 or so, Dr. Preston had a medical practice in Carleton Place and he delivered both Lloyd and Harold Hughes. He was also the Mayor and a member of parliament for several years. The building itself had a stable behind it, which was kept by Mr. Halpenny who drove the house and buggy for the doctor. If a lady was having a baby in the country the doctor would not be able to get there in tie to deliver the child but a midwife would be on hand. The midwife would not only be the temporary doctor but would also stay with the family for a few days to help the mother and get the meals for the other members of the family. The doctor usually got there the day after the birth to ensure all was in order andreturn to town. In 1917, Dr. Preston brought in Dr. Smith. Dr. Smith was there for ten to fifteen years. Dr. Preston was quite old when he gave up his practice and Dr. James kept it up.
In the early history of Darlington, we find that Mr. John Burk, John W. Trull, and Roger Conat, were the pioneers, and first settlers of this Township. They emigrated together, with their families, from the United States to Canada, in the year 1794, and on the 2nd day of October, they landed from their boats on the beach of Lake Ontario, one mile west of Barber’s Creek, now Port Darlington.
They were induced to come to this country, by a proclamation issued by Colonel John Greaves Simcoe, (then Lieutenant-Governor of Canada), that all males of the age of 18 years, who settled in the country, should be entitled to two hundred acres of land.
In their journey from the Susquehannah River, their former home, they met with innumerable difficulties, and many hardships. Their families and effects were placed on board a Batteau (a large rude boat), which was coasted around the head of the lake, running into bays and inlets, in order to avoid storms, or for the purpose of cooking their meals, and camping during the night; while the stock, which consisted of two cows and one horse, were driven around the shore on foot, having to cross swamps, marshes, lagoons, outlets, and rivers, as best they could. Those in charge of the boats, having crossed the Niagara river into Canada, were received with great kindness by the Governor, who sent a man back to assist in bringing around the stock as far as York, now Toronto. In an extract from a letter written to the Hon. Harvey Burk, I find that his uncle, Jessia Burk, was one of the persons then engaged in driving this stock. He says, in his letter, “I was fourteen years and one month old, when we landed in Darlington. I came all the way on foot, and helped to drive the cattle with Tom________, who lived with the Trull’s. When we came to Big Bay, I was to swim the three year-old colt, belonging to old Conat, and Tom said, he could swim across. We waited until the cattle got safely over; I then, being on the colt, put forward, and soon came to where there was a short break off in deep water, and the colt went down, clear under; I saw that he could not swim with me on his back, so I placed my left foot against his side, and shot myself clear from him. We came ashore again, and went around the head of the bay, where we found the cattle on the beach. After surmounting numerous obstacles and delays, this small band of emigrants reached their destination in safety.” They were surrounded by primeval forest, the only human inhabitant being the rude, savage Indian, who looked with jealous eyes upon the encroachment of the whites.
Landed in a new and wild country, and winter fast approaching, the people comprising this settlement set at once to work, to construct log shanties, which were plastered on the inside with mud, and had bark covering for a roof. Mr. John Burk built his house on the bank of the lake, being the southern portion of the farm, now owned by his grandson Wm. K. Burk. In another extract from the letter, before quoted, Mr. Jessia Burk says: “We had no neighbors but the Indians for two or three years, save old Benj. Wilson, and the Trull’s, who lived at Baldwin’s Creek. There was not a house within thirty miles to the west, save and old French trading house, that Wilson got in, and old Conat’s, two miles to the east of Wilson’s; and none east of us, short of Smith’s Creek,” (Port Hope.) During the winter, these pioneers spent most of their time in trapping and hunting; the deer and bear being so plentiful, that an abundance of animal food could be procured with but very little trouble. The furred animals were also very numerous, and required but little skill to trap them, their skins being about the only thing that could be sold for money.
A very great inconvenience felt among them, was the want of a mill to grind their grain and corn, the nearest being Myer’s Mill, situated at the foot of Lake Ontario, 60 miles distant. Those who went to mill, usually took two weeks to go and return, using a canoe for the purpose, and hauling it up on the shore at night, when a storm occurred, they were weather-bound until it passed over. On their arrival at the mill, they waited till the grist was ground, when they returned home in the same manner. As going to mill was no light undertaking, and attended with so many obstacles and perils, a great many expedients were resorted to, in order to obviate this necessity. Some of the settlers had brought large coffee-mills with them, and these were used to grind or crack their grain. Other contrivances were improvised; one method very much in vogue, was to make a rude mortar, by hollowing out a stump; sometimes this was done by boring, or chiseling, but it was frequently burnt out, and the cavity scraped with a knife, or other instrument, until all the charred spots were removed; then they had a wooden pounder attached to a swing-pole. They put the corn into the cavity, and pounded it with this rude pestle. This bruised corn was known by the name of Samp, and when pounded fine, was made into Johnny Cake, the course being boiled into mush. Another nutritious and wholesome article of food, was found in the wild rice, which grew in most of the marshes, and in great abundance at Rice Lake. This was first parched, and afterwards pounded, and either made into cakes, or boiled, and acted as a healthful absorbent, when taken with animal food.
The Indians were very troublesome, and caused considerable anxiety, being armed and quipped, and very different from the remnants of the broken tribes occasionally seen at the present time. Capt. John Trull relates an incident which occurred at this time in his father’s house, when he was a boy. His father was absent, having gone to Myer’s mill, when a squaw, with four papooses, came to the house, and asked his mother for nah-paw-nee (Flour.) That article being extremely scarce, his mother refused giving her any; the squaw then searched through the house, and found the flour in a kneading trough. She brought it forth, and commenced to divide it equally to every one in the room, by giving a double handful to each, beginning with his mother, then to herself, and to each white child, and papoose, until it was all divided, when she took her share in a bag, and travelled off through the woods.
Open hostilities were, as a general thing, avoided, and there is only one instance recorded of a white man being killed by the Indians, although most of the settlers were in considerable dread of them. There was, according to their history, one man (Mr. Jno. Burk) among them, who did not share this timidity, but showed a bold front, and when any of them attempted to take liberties, would resent by giving them a sound thrashing. According to all accounts, he did not require much provocation to do so, but the chastising of an Indian by him was looked upon as a pleasant duty, which he was willing to perform on any occasion. For this particular trait of character, the Indians applied a sobriquet, to designate him from the rest of the settlers, which was not very flattering.
Mr. Timothy Soper is another of the very early settlers in the Township of Darlington. His father, Mr. Leonard Soper, was born in 1762, and emigrated to Canada in 1788. The following year, the present Timothy Soper was born in the Township of Sidney, near the head of the Bay of Quinte, and was the first white child born in that Township. At that time, there was no white settlement in this portion of Canada, and only one vessel, the Mohawk, a schooner employed in the interests of the North West Fur Company, on Lake Ontario. Mr. Soper, who, in 1795 removed to the Township of Hope, says, “there was no mill at Smith’s Creek, (Port Hope); my father went once to Kingston, and several times to Napanee, taking his grist in a canoe.”
While living in Hope, Mr. Soper lost a span of horses. They were gone one year and three months, when he learned from the Indians where they were, and upon repairing to the place, found the horse, and a colt which had been foaled; the mare was never found.
The first Court of Queen’s Bench that ever assembled in the Counties of Northumberland and Durham, was held in a barn, on the premises of Mr. Soper, in Hope, on which occasion, the Judge, (Major MacGregor Rogers,) lawyers, and other officials chose sides, and played a game of ball, to determine who should pay the expense of dinner. Ephriam Gifford, father of the late Garner Gifford, acted as constable.
Mr. Leonard Soper moved to Darlington in 1805, and erected the first saw mill built in the Township; but it was burnt down the following year; another was put up near the same place. About this time, Mr. John Burke, built a saw mill, on Barber’s Creek, from which time the place was known as Darlington Mills until 1823, when it was changed to its present name, (Bowmanville).
In 1806, Mr. Soper purchased from Augustus Barber, (after whom the Bowmanville Creek was named) the present Soper mill property. Mr. Timothy Soper relates an incident which occurred to him some time after his father had built the mill. While engaged in cleaning some fish one morning, a bear came up and commenced feeding upon the offals. Not content with this, she began to feed upon the fish. Mr. Soper called for some one to bring him a gun. Once was soon brought, which he discharged at the bear, but being only loaded with light shot, did not kill, but severely wounded her, whereupon she climbed a tree. A heavier charge dispatched her.
Mr. Timothy Soper is now in his 86th year, enjoys good health, and has lived to see every President of the United States take their seats.
In Clarke, Mr. Richard Lovekin was the first settler. He, with others, left Ireland in the 21st of September, 1795, sailing from the cove of Cork. They met with adverse winds, which took them far out of their course, and after a tedious journey, landed in St. Bartholemew, on the 26th of January, 1796, and arrived in New York, 9th of April following. Mr. Lovekin proceeded in advance of his family, with two hired assistants, to located his land, and prepare a home for their reception. After meeting with numerous adventures, incident to a new and wild country, he settled at the mouth of what was afterwards known as Baldwin’s Creek, (Wilmot’s), where he, after building a temporary shanty, commenced to clear some land, and cut timber for the construction of a house.
Soon after his arrival, himself and men took the boat one evening, and ran up the marsh for the purpose of cutting grass, with which to make their beds. While so engaged, they heard the wolves howling around them, which, at first, the men began to mimic; but the noise continuing, and the wolves increasing in numbers, became so bold as to approach within a short distance of them; the men got frightened, and pulled for the outlet. As they passed along into the lake, the wolves, thirty or forty in number, ranged themselves on each side of the sand-bank, snapping and howling like a lot of furies, to see them escape. After arriving at their shanty, they did not think proper to land until they had seen the last of the dusky forms retire in the shade of the woods; whereupon, they repaired to the shanty, and kept up a large fire the remaining part of the night.
Having, during the summer, cleared some of the land, and constructed and completed a house, with the exception of the doors and windows, Mr. Lovekinthought of returning to his family, and, on the following spring, to bring them to their new home. He had about a hundred and fifty dollars in silver, with him, which, on account of its weight, he thought unnecessary to take back, so he concluded to place it in a hollow tree; and for that purpose, wrapped it in paper, put it in a stocking, and securing it with a strong cord, hung it up in a hollow tree, which he had selected, and left the place. On his arrival the following year, with his family, he was somewhat astonished, on entering his house, to find it already occupied by an old bear, who rushed down stairs, without ceremony, and jumped through the window. On inspecting the house, it was found, from the quantity of leaves and brush piled up in a corner of the room, that the bear had taken up its winter quarters there.
After having, in a manner, settled his effects and family in the house, he went to the tree to see if the money was all safe. He found a small piece of string, which had been secured to a knotty protuberance within the hollow, but the stocking, and its contents, was gone from where he had placed it. He felt disappointed, and considered it lost; but occasionally it would revert to his mind that he was not sure of this, and so some time afterwards, to satisfy himself, he set to work and cut down the tree, at the bottom of which, he found portions of the paper and stocking, cut up fine, and mixed with grass and leaves, which formed a wood-mouse’s nest. After removing the nest, he found all his money buried in loose, rotten wood, and mould. Mr. Lovekin drew his land from the Government, and became a permanent citizen in 1801. He took the oath of allegiance, was appointed Chief Magistrate of the home district, (which embraced the country from Cobourg to Toronto), and held many offices of trust under the Government. During the war of 1812, he administered the oath of allegiance to many brave and patriotic person, who took up arms in defence of the country. The following is a form of the oath, and a list of the names of those to whom the oath was administered:
(AFFIDAVIT.) County of Durham, to Wit Be it remembered, that, before Richard Lovekin, one of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the district of Newcastle, the non-commissioned officers and privates of the first regiment of the Durham Militia, whose names are underwritten, haven taken and subscribed the following oath, as prescribed by the Act of the Provincial Parliament, passed the fifth day of August, in the fifty-second year of His Majesty’s Reign, entitled an Act “to repeal part of the laws now in force for the training and warning the Militia of the Province, and to make further provision for the raising and training of the said Militia.” And which oath has been duly administered to the said non-Commissioned officers and privates in obedience to the order of His Honor, Major General Shraffe, President administering the Government of the Province of Upper Canada, communicated through Major General Shaw, Adjutant General of Militia, to William Warren Baldwin, the Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding the said first Regiment of the Durham Militia.
(OATH.) I do sincerely promise and swear, that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King George, and him will defend to the utmost of my power, against all traitorous conspiracies and attempts whatever which shall be made against his person, crown, or dignity, and I will do my utmost endeavor to disclose and make known to His Majesty, his heirs and successors, all treasons and traitorous conspiracies and attempts, which I shall know to be against him or them-So help me God.
MILITIA ROLL CALL FOR 1812, BY
Ebenezer Hartwell, Daniel Lightheart, Norris Carr, Augustus Barber, Waterman A. Spencer, James Burke, Nathan Pratt, Samuel Burk, Enoch Davis, John Trull, John Dingman, William Pickle, Matthew Borland, John Wilson, Eliphalet Conat, Richard Martain, Michael Coffun, David Burk, Jeremiah Conat, Thomas Powers, James Flannigan, David Seron, William Preston, Timothy Johnson, Dyer Moore, James Grant, Reuben Grant, Jr., James Hawkins, Jr., Thomas Hartwell, John Paine, Lanson Soper, Caleb Raymond, Joel Byrns, Jr., Williams Bebee, Nehemiah Vail, Aaron Hills, John Brown, Nathan Haskell, Joel Byrns, Sr., Jonathan Bedford, Jr., John Odell, Nathan Watson, Alexander W. Ross, Luther McNall, Gershom Orvis, Jered Kimball, Jonathan Rodgers, John Potter, Abraham Bowen, Stadman Bebee, Daniel Wright, Israel Bowen, Daniel Crippen, Dorous Crippin, Luke Smades, Joshua Smades, John Walker, Joseph Barden, Pletiah Soper, James Merrill, John Perry, Adna Bates, Francis Lightfoot, Samuel Marvin, William Carr, Williams Borland Jr., Roger B. Wolcott, John Spencer, John Hartwell, Myndert Hanis, Senr., John Burn, Alexander Fletcher, Robert Clark, John D. Smith, Leonard Soper, John Haskill, Sameul W. Marsh, Thomas Gaige, Jeremiah Brittain, Daniel Porter, James Hawkins, Sr., Gardner Gifford, Elias Smith, Jr., Roger Bates, James Stephens, Samuel Gifford, Ezra Gifford, Peter Bice, Christopher Merkley, Josiah Caswell, David Gage, Joel Smades, George Potter, David Bedford, Samuel Willet, David Crippin, Benjamin Preston, Reuben Grant, Sr., Abell Allen, Isaac Hagerman, Justin Johnson, Jeremiah Hays, Hiram Bedford, Joseph Caldwell, Stephen Morse, Benjamin Root, Benjamin Preston, Warren Munson, Edward McReloy, Myndert Harris, Jr., Asa Callendar, Joseph Haskell, James Lee, Zephaniah Sexton, Cornelius Daly, Jonathan Sexton, Zachariah Odell, Williams Munson, Timothy Haskell, Ephraim Gifford, John Voree, Josiah Wilson, Stephen Bedford.