One of the commonly told stories of Rosetta begins, as many others do, with a Scottish family’s decision to travel to Canada in search of better fortunes. In 1821, James Dick set out with his wife Jane and their eleven children from their home in Bathgate, Scotland en route to New Lanark and to what would be their new home in Lanark Township. Unfortunately, before the promise of a new life was realized, extreme hardship was to befall the family. After disembarking at Lachine, Quebec, James drowned in the St. Laurence River, leaving his wife and children considering a return to their family in Scotland. However, James’ wife and eldest son John decided to continue the journey. From Lachine, John wrote a letter to his uncle in Scotland saying that the family had “reconciled to go to our destination, all believing that our kind father not only risked his life, but lost it in the view of putting and leaving the family in a better situation than he could place them in at home.” Unfortunately, tragedy would befall the family once more before reaching their destination.
Within a month, Jane Dick too had died, likely of exposure or influenza, leaving her children orphaned before they had reached their new home. With great resolve, John Dick and his elder sisters once again decided to continue the journey. As the only guardians of their siblings, the eldest daughters, aged 21 and 19, took over their mother’s duties and John, still only 17 years old at the time, took up his father’s dream and finally settled his family in Rosetta, near this cache’s location. With the help of their neighbors the children were able to clear land for a home, raise themselves, and attend school. Local legend maintains that it was a structure built by one of the Dick children, a livestock pen made of poles which came to a peak at the top and which reminded a fellow pioneer of the pyramids of Rosetta, Egypt, which gave the community its name.
Despite the immense hardship of their journey and settlement, the Dick children went on to be prominent early residents of Rosetta, many becoming ministers after their education. Robert, for example, who was only eight years old when the family arrived in Rosetta, quit school at 14 to work on the family farm but managed to teach himself Latin and mathematics in the evenings. He later moved to the United States where he found success as an inventor and evangelist, known today for the invention of glued labels for addressing mail.
Though there is some debate as to the ownership of the original land, it was likely on the farm of John Dick that settlers came together at a large rock for the area’s first church services. Religion was of paramount importance to the region’s pioneers who were often in need of spiritual aid and comfort, and it was common for services to be held in the homes and barns of a village to which people would come from all the surrounding area. Like all of these settlers, the people of Rosetta lost no time in forming congregations and holding such services, often atop this large outcropping now called the Preaching Rock.
The Preaching Rock, which until recently remained the site of annual outdoor church services as shown in the photo above, is located in a farmer’s field very near this cache’s location. In addition to giving the use of his family’s land to his fellow residents’ spiritual needs at the Preaching Rock, John also donated a corner of his farm for a church and cemetery, land upon which a church and cemetery remain today and where this cache is located.
As is true today in the rural villages of the Lanark Highlands, this is a region where people willingly help their neighbours without thought of reward, a gesture never more evident than in the beginnings of Rosetta and the early lives of the Dick children. Very close to the cache’s location is the grave of John Dick, who lived his entire life in Rosetta and passed away in 1862. In his 1821 letter to relatives in Scotland, John made note of settlers which he had encountered who had already made homes for themselves and who were “enjoying all that can render life easy and comfortable by a few years of industry and exertion,” and expressed hope that “by the blessing of God, along with our exertions, our family ere long may be placed in the same easy circumstances.” As you find this cache, take some time to remember this committed young man and his family who, against all odds, made their way here to Rosetta and began a new life among the pioneers of the Lanark Highlands..
The first Presbyterian Church at Rosetta was built on land purchased from the James Dick family who emigrated from Bathgate Scotland in 1821. A tragic beginning to their new life in Canada, James drowned at Lachine while Mrs. Dick passed away shortly after she and here 11 children arrived in Lanark Township.
Families such as the Peacocks, Robertsons, Ramsbottom and Campbells also settled in the Rosetta area, the first earliest recorded burial was Robert Stoddart, in 1828.
“Before the construction of the church, services were held at the preaching rock, on land original owned by Robert Arnott.