"Organized in 1907"

Lennox and Addington Historical Society Papers and Records, Volume 1, 1909

CHRONICLES OF NAPANEE.

Note.-These letters were written by an "old resident," and were published in The Beaver in 1873 and 1874. They appear in one of the Historical Society Scrap Books.

LETTER I.   LETTER II.   LETTER III.   LETTER IV.   LETTER V.   LETTER VI.   LETTER VII.


LETTER V.

The first postmaster who was appointed at Napanee Mills, received his comnission from Daniel Sutherland, Esq., Deputy Postmaster General of British North America, in the year 1820. At this time the whole mail matter from Montreal to York (now Toronto) was carried on men's backs. It is said that old Mr. Andrew Loyst, whose posterity now live in Sheffield, was one of the couriers. He used to say that in his day he could "out go" any horse, by striking his usual "dog trot." From 1820 to 1826 His Majesty's mail, which was very small, was carried on horseback, three times a week. Napanee Mills not being a post of change of horses, the bridle was thrown over the horse's head and passed through a hook at the old post office door, where he remained in spite of all comers until the mail was overhauled. The horses were sometimes changed at Fralick's Tavern, near Little Creek, and at Bowen's Tavern, near the boundary between Richmond and Tyendinaga. The noble horse which usually did this service for King George IV., was afterwards owned by old "Royal Blue," the Arctic explorer and whale fisherman, who was a man of iron constitution, and lived to a very old age, and like Esau of old, was a very hairy man.

At one time, while the school was going on at the old school house, Sir John Colborne and suite, all on horseback, on their way to York, halted at the school to enquire which road to take.

About this time there was a Government grant of L6oo to improve the road through "Indian Wood" to Belleville, and J. P. Roblin, Esq., after some delay, completed a bridge near Jas. Bowen's. John U. was then, as he has ever since been, a most consistent "cold waterman," although engaged in the whitefish trade.

in the early days of Napanee Mills, salmon was very plentiful, and in their fruitless attempts to ascend the falls, after the dams were built, were frequently shot by the sportsmen of that date, among whom was Joe. Lowe, a black slave, whom the late Richard Lowe, Esq., of Adolphustown, brought with him from the United States. There is no more shooting or fishing for poor old Joe ; he has gone where the good people go. He was a great favorite among the children, and, living to a ripe old age, was cared for to the last by Mrs. Blanchard, of Picton.

Among old papers we have come across a poll book for Lennox and Addington, of 1830, when the election was held at the cross roads between Fralick's and Gordanier's Taverns, and continued for six days. The candidates were Marshall S. Bidwell, Peter Perry and Samuel Casey, Esqs. The election commenced at 9 a.m., and closed at 5 p.m. each day. It closed on the morning of the fifth day by the retirement of the third candidate. B. Seymour, Esq., of Port Hope ; E. Perry, Esq., of Tamworth; W. J. Fairfield, Esq., of Bath ; Asa and Amos Schermahorn, and John Kimmerly, Esqs., of Richmond, are among the very few survivors of the loyal electors of that date, and none of the candidates linger to solicit support. One of the voters, John Hillier, lived to be 106 years of age.

Among the first merchants who flourished in Napanee, I might mention Richard Robinson, who occupied the old Red Store, and the old white house near Isaiah Huffman's, from 1812 to 1820. He was father of the late Thomas Robinson, Police Magistrate of Kingston.

In 1817 Allan McPherson took the old Red Store, and in '21 he took in McGregor as partner until 1828. Mac afterwards ran the store on his own account. Frederick Hesford was for many years a, clerk for him, and when he died willed the McPherson family 2oo acres of land, upon which Upper Napanee now stands. He was a very odd old gentleinan, and died a bachelor.

About the year 1834, B. Ham, McNeill and McHenry (father of Donald C.), and Thomas Ramsay opened stores in Clarksville. Many others embarked in merchandise, very few of whom, however, made fortunes.

After the old mill was given up by Mac, it was taken by an Eglishman from Newburgh, who was not very popular. It was given by some as a reason for his unpopularity, that his hogs were too fat ; by others that he ground too close ; and by others that there was too little flour in his bran. However, at a military dinner given in Shorey's best style, the Colonel being present, all were as happy as good cheer could make them by the "moisture of the clay." One of the officers who was always right (P. Wright), volunteered the song "There was a miller lived in our town, etc.", which so amused "Solomon", who had never heard before the song, that in his wisdom and for the benefit of the land, bought out the old miller at a good round price. It was about this time that Mac built the small mill on the south side of the river, where oatmeal, pot and pearl barley and split peas were manufactured, and here the coldest and purest spring water was witched into "fire water." Richard Lowe was among the first to start a fulling, carding and cloth dressing factory, near where Perry's factory now is. Among his employees was his imported slave, Joe., and the world renowned Tobias Mink, one of a very large family of color who early located at Mink's bridge, on the Newburgh road. Of this family there is but one survivor, Hiram, the youngest. Poor Tobe, although he lived until his hair got white, his skin never faded. He was drowned in Napanee river a few years since. Both young and old will remember him.

Thomas Dier, a dyer by trade, and who died a centenarian, succeeded Mr. Lowe in the business, who was followed by C. T. Cramer, who also built a distillery and a woolen factory on the site now occupied by James Perry. About the year 1830, Jacob and Peter Quackenbush erected a carding mill which was driven by a large inclined horizontal wheel, with horse and beef power.

Levi W. Nichols, Esq., now of Richmond, in the thirties, built a foundry on Mill street, near Downey's grain store. John Herring succeeded him in the business.

John McGill Detlor erected a brewery on West street, which was afterwards run by Alex. Margach, but before he learned the art his means were exhausted, and he retired from the business. Part of the building still stands, where Warner's store house is erected.

B. Atkinson was the first to attend to the "understandings" of the inhabitants. He had a small tannery and shoe shop west of Napanee, near New Liverpool. He was followed by Robert McGuinness. The principal part of shoemaker's work was done by tramps, who carried their kits, stopped when and where required, travelling from house to house, and carrying with them a supply of the material required.

About the first tailoring establishment in the place was Edward Matthews' "tip-top tailor shop," over old Mr. Hosey's dwelling. He was succeeded by the late Edward Jenkins, of Richmond, who built in Clarksville. He was a sure fit and up to time. Next came B. Foot, of Sand Hill, who, while he lived, was ever ready for his customers. Then came Robt. Bell, who for a long time had a good run.

As cabinetmakers and millwrights we had Wm. G. P. Bartels, who first opened business in a log building near Carscallen's burying ground-a fit place for an undertaker. He also made sleighs and, for those days, very fine cutters, one of which was raffled at the old Red Tavern in 1825. Bradford Tuttle succeeded Bartels as cabinetmaker and undertaker, and for many years our respected and esteemed citizen, Mr. C. McBean, carried on the same business, but has some time since retired.

John Hawley, Esq., of Richmond, who will be 80 years of age on the 6th of March next, remembers many of the incidents previously narrated. He was a lad when, old Mr. Kesler started his trip-hammer, and recollects driving one of eighteen yoke of oxen which were employed in drawing a large oak stick of timber for the trip-hammer shaft for Kesler. He also remembers going to mill on horseback frequently, and turning the crank to bolt his own grist. Father Hawley is still smart, and can see to read the smallest type without glasses, having obtained his "second sight" a few years since. He is very much attached to his Bible, and has read the New Testament through eighty times, as also the Old Testament several times.

Old Mr. George Schryver was born near Napanee in 1793, is now living in Napance, in his 81st year. He has remembrance of many incidents of the early times. He also carried grists to the old "Appanee Mills," and turned the crank. When about eighteen years of age he was employed in the old distillery near where Perry's plaster mill now stands, where he served his time for a year with a man named Tuttle, in the distilling business. George, however, never followed the business. He remembers old Mr. and Mrs. Kesler. The latter was a very fleshy old lady, who used frequently to say that "the more she eat, the less she did, and the stiller she sat, the better she felt." About the year 1817, George thought it was not good for man to be alone, so he wooed and won the hand of Mary Vankoughnet, and as none but English Church clergymen could legally join them together, they were published by the Rev. Mr. McDowall, of Bath, but when the time for the marriage came the minister was sick and could not tie the knot. So he sent a certificate to Dr. Jacob Chamberlain, Justice of the Peace, who made them one flesh, which at that time was legal.


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