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Sidney Township, Hastings County, Ontario

Belden Atlas 1878

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Records of the Bay of Quinte

Sidney Township: Excerpt from the Historical Atlas of Hastings & Prince Edward Counties, Ontario, Illustrated. H. Belden & Co., 1878. Reprint by Mika Publishing, 1977, p iv and v.

The township on the Bay of Quinte, with the exception of the Indian township Tyendenaga, were first settled upon both its sides, by United Em­pire Loyalists, and were numbered in the order of their settlement, King­ston being first town, Earnestown, second town, and so on to the township of Sidney, which was called eighth town. Some of these numbered names are still retained by their inhabitants, especially in Prince Edward County, the township of Ameliasburgh being still called seventh town. The loyalty of the first settlers caused these to be changed from Kingston Township upwards, to the names of the sons and daughters of King George III, those on the Peninsula of Prince Edward Co., being named after the females of that line. Those names being exhausted by the earlier town­ships on the Bay and a kindred settlement on the River St. Lawrence from Elizabethtown downwards, Sidney was named after Lord Sidney who, in the time of the revolutionary war, was Secretary for the Colonial Depart­ment, and was surveyed and laid out about the year 1787, by Louis Kotte, assisted by one McDonald. A map on file in the Crown Lands Department has inscribed upon it, “Sidney in the District of Meklenburg." It is bounded on the north by the township of Rawdon, on the east by Thurlow and the city of Belleville, on the south by the Bay of Quinte, and on the west by the river Trent and the township of Murray in the County of Nor­thumberland, and is at present one of the best settled and wealthiest town­ships in the County of Hastings. The settlement of Sidney was permanently effected during and from the year 1787, by three classes or grades of settlers, 1st. United Empire Loyalists; 2nd. Sons and daughters from the Loyalists of older townships on the Bay, who had drawn land there, and also by persons of Loyalist origin who came from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and elsewhere, where they had first settled; 3rd. by Americans who subse­quently settled there after the war of 1812, and probably at an earlier period. Thus, its settlement was progressive in character. It would, however, ap­pear, that the entire occupation of the first five concessions surveyed and laid out by Kotte, was not entirely completed, until after a lapse of several years. The northern section of the township, or the Oak Hill range, was sur­veyed and settled later still, and one of the first portions occupied there, if not the very first, was that of the Sine Settlement, on lots Nos. 23 and 24, in the 6th concession.

The first concession of Sidney, from the proximity of the waters of the Bay of Qninte, became of necessity the scene of the earliest settlement. Capt. John Walter Myers, noted during the revolutionary war for his bravery and enterprise, and whose career, in connection with the same, is related with varying details in Stokes' "American Border Wars," and Dr. Canniffs " History of the Settlement of Canada," together with his family, appears to have been the actual pioneer settler. Capt. Myers was of Dutch descent, and came from the vicinity of Albany, on the Hudson, in the State of  New York, about the close of the war, and settled upon the front of Sidney, where he drew a large grant of land, a short distance east of the present village of Trenton. His enterprise was here auspicious, not only in clearing land for cultivation, but in erecting a grist mill upon a small stream on his land in Sidney, and thus became a pioneer in mill building as well as trading and sailing Batteaux and other craft on the waters of the Bay of Quinte. Traces of this mill near the Bay shore can still be seen; and the position of the dam, the mill-race, the foundation of the mill and residence of the late owner still exist; and, what is more especially interesting, there is embedded in the surface soil, but still exhibiting its upper side, the lower mill stone, or bed-stone as it is usually designated. The stream proving, eventually, inadequate for the desired end, he subsequently erected another mill on the present river Moira, on a dam constituted for that pur­pose, and also a log saw-mill on the opposite or east bank of the river, where Belleville now stands. At a much earlier period, on leaving the re­volted colonies as a U. E. Loyalist, he sojourned for a short time at Adolphustown, or Fourth town, and also for a time on the front of Thurlow, then unsurveyed, from whence he removed, upon the representation of his eldest son George, to the front of Sidney, as a more eligible place for settle­ment. Capt. Myers had four sons, George, Tobias, Leonard and Jacob, and at least two daughters, one of whom was married to J. J. Bleeker, the first settler at Trenton, and the other to John Row, an early settler of Sid­ney. His grant of land consisted of 800 acres, and here descendants of his sons, sons and daughters, reside at the present time. Tobias W. Myers and John G. Myers, sons of his eldest son George, a Major, as he subse­quently became, are the present patriarchs of the settlement. Capt. Myers died in the year 1816, and was interred in the old or original burial ground on the front of Sidney.

The original U. E. Loyalists, as far as can be ascertained, settled on the front of first concession of Sidney, in the following order, commencing at Trenton:—Gapt. Marsh, Capt. Myers and his four sons, John Scott, George Smith, Abel Gilbert, Chrysdale and Ostrom. George Smith was the first person interred in the old front of Sidney burial ground. To these were added offshoots of U. E. Loyalists from elsewhere, and followed by Ame­ricans, who emigrated from the United States. At this period we find the names of Zwick, Vandervoort, White, Bonesteel, Simmons, Kelly, Finkle, Graham, Jones, Laurence, Elijah Ketcheson, and others, in the first con­cession of the township. In the second concession the early settlers were chiefly composed of the second class descendants of U. E. Loyalists from other townships and provinces of the British Rule, with a few of the third class, and this was also the case with the remaining concessions, includ­ing those to the fifth. On the second concession we have' the names of Hogle, John Row, .from Nova Scotia, Simmons, Gilbert, Ostrom, Vandewater ; James Farley, who is said to have come here in 1799, and others. On the third concession there occur the names of .John Smith, John Lott,

John Stickle — three Johns — hence the name, Johnstown to the west end of the concession — Ira Billings, Bonesteel, Perrey, Aikens, Crouter, McMullen, Vandervoort, Goldsmith, Ruliff, Purdey, Hagerman, Roblin, Caleb Gillbert, Fralick, and others. On the fourth concession came William Ketcheson with his sons, in 1800, being an U. E. Loyalist family from Nova Scotia, who purchased land and settled here. Other settlers came in about the same time, or it may be a little before this period. The settlement of this con­cession began towards the eastern boundary, where we find the names of Longwell, Sherard, Hazelton, William Ketcheson sr., William Ketcheson, jr, Youmans, John Ketcheson, Graham, Huffman, Henry Grass, Ackers, Thomas Ketcheson, and others.

The settlement of the rest of the township, as previously mentioned, was still later; many changes have occurred since the days when Capt. Myers with his family took up his residence on the front of the township. Lands have changed hands, and in some cases the names of their owners, together with the original names, to whom the Crown patents were issued, have disap­peared from the township records, but in a large majority of eases they still remain. In the old burial ground on lot No. 10, on the front of Sidney, slop­ing pleasantly down to the bay shore, where the forefathers of the township sleep, where the hardy and energetic pioneers of Sidney are laid in their last resting place, the names recorded are seen now, some without a record, whose vigorous arms felled the forest trees, cleared the land, and raised the first humble dwellings, which have almost entirely given way to more stately edifices of brick, stone and other materials. Around the remains of old John Walter Myers, are gathered his kindred neighbors, and associates; his loyal patriotic friends and opponents are sleeping quietly by his side. The primitive old woods of former times that covered the shore of the Bay of Quinte, have almost entirely disappeared, and the Indian hunter with his wigwam, who fished and hunted, is also gone, and a new order of things pre­vails. The smiling fields ripe with cultivation, the comfortable homesteads, the beautiful and smiling orchards, the well-kept, and tastefully laid out gardens, the neat substantial mansion, with occasionally a rising town, or pleasantly located village, look forth upon the Bay water, and gather pleasure and profit from the situation upon this beautiful arm of Lake On­tario.

On Lot No. 13, on the front of the township and on the road from Tren­ton to Belleville, there was formerly a tavern, blacksmith shop, store—pro­bably Ferguson & Bell's— and a group of houses which was called Rhinebeck, but the name, with the old features, as a village, have long since disappeared. Owing to some difficulty arising about the side lines throughout the township, and the general inaccuracy of the division lines, a re-survey was ordered at a later day, the surveyor being one Atkins, whose lines are still considered authority.

In order to show how marriages were perfomed in those early days, we reproduce a certificate, issued by one of the Sidney Magistrates, in 1819. We withhold the names of the parties directly interested, they belonging to two of the oldest and wealthiest families in the township.

Sidney Township:
Whereas,           and             both being of the Township of Sidney, are desirous of intermarrying with each other, and have presented a written licence for that purpose. Now, these are to certify that I, Solomon Hazleton, one of His Majesty's Justices of the Peace, have this day married the said          and           together in marriage, and they are become contracted to each other in marriage.             Solomon Hazleton, J.P.
Sidney, May 19th, 1819."

Through the kindness of F. B. Prior, clerk, we were permitted to make the following excerpts from the Record of the township, which date back to 1790:

'' Names of persons who subscribed seven pence halfpenny to purchase this book for a Township Record
1. Caleb Gillbert,
2. George Smith,
3. Peter Lott,
4. Nicholas J. Stickles,
5. Aaron Rose,
6. Cornelius Lawrence,
7. Henry Ketcheson,
8. Ruliff Ostrom,
9. Solomon Hazleton,
10. Hugh McMullen,
11. James Sharrard.
12. John Barnum,
13. George Finkle,
14. Samuel B. Gillberd,
15. Gilbert Harris,
16. Alex. Chisholm, Jr.,
17. John Hennesy,
18. Cornelius White,
19. William Kelly, Sr.,
20. William Kelly, Jr.,
21. Leonard W. Myers,
22. John Row,
23. Samuel Tompkins,
24. David Marshall,
25. Charles Simmons,
26. Alex. Gilbard,
27. Moses Simmons
 
The above subscriptions being paid, the book was purchased, upon whose second page appears the following record of the first town meeting ever held in the township of Sidney:

1790       
UPPER CANADA.
May 15th

"Pursuant to an Act of the Legislature of the Province of Upper Canada, in such case made and provided, the first annual meeting of the inhabitants of the Township of Sidney, was held at the dwelling house of Aaron Rose, in Sidney aforesaid, on May the 15th, 1790, and from thence adjourned to the dwelling house of Stephen Gilbert, Esq., and to be held on the first Tuesday of May ensuing.”

“May 15th.—The inhabitants of Sidney being assembled as aforesaid, to act upon town business, have nominated and appointed for town” officers the following persons, viz: — moderator — John W. Myers; town clerk — Leonard Soper; constable — David Simmons; pathmasters to lay out road - George Myers, Caleb Gillbert; fence viewers — Nathaniel Marsh, William Lounsbury."

"By-Law — It was ordered, the town clerk be entitled to a fee of seven pence half-penny for entering the ear marks of the inhabitants of Sidney “in the town book."

 It appears that three years later, or in 1794, the townships of Sidney and Thurlow were united for municipal purposes, for on Tuesday, the 3rd day of May of that year, at a meeting held in the dwelling house of Caleb Gilbert — "It was ordered by a majority of votes, that fences be 4 feet 6 inches "high, in the Township of Sidney, and not to exceed 5 inches between” the rails, Thurlow Township not to exceed 6 inches."

At this meeting Archibald Chisholm and George Myers were appointed assessors, the first in these townships.

 In the year 1798 "Rams were ordered confined from 1st of Sept. to 10th” of December, under a penalty of 20 shillings; hogs to be free commons "until they done damage."

During the month of May, 1798, the townships of Sidney and Thurlow separated, and the former elected its own officers as follows: William Lounsburry, Town Clerk, Paul Gruber and Joseph Rosebush, Town Wardens. In 1799, Henry Smith was elected Town Clerk, and in 1800 John Hagerman, followed by James Farley, James W. Sharrard, Reuben White, Abel Gilbert, Elijah Ketcheson, Jacob W. Myers, Joseph M. Lockwood, Gideon Turner, Jolin S. Huffman. The town meetings were held respectively in the Inn of Ketcheson, 5th Concession, Ketcheson's store, 4th Concession, and Ketcheson's school-house. In 1848-9 John Ketcheson was District Coun­cillor, and Gillbert Bleeker, Township Clerk.

On the erection of the Township of Sidney, in the year 1850, to an inde­pendent Municipality, the following persons were elected by a popular vote of its inhabitants to the several positions required by the Ace of Parliament made and provided, the returns being made at the dwelling house of Gilbert Bleeker:

Gideon Turner, Reeve; Caleb Gillbert, Deputy Reeve; Robert Bird, and Gillbert Bleeker, Councillors; Thos. D. Farley was appointed Clerk of the first Council.

The chief executive offices of the Council since the above date have been filled respectively by the following named gentlemen: Thomas D. Farley, George Zuick, Ballis Rosa, — 13 years Reeve — Caleb Gillbert, Ketchem Graham, Gideon Turner, — many years Clerk — and James A. Chisholm. C. Armstrong is the present Reeve, Frank B. Prior, Clerk.

The town hall is situated about the centre of the township, at the post village of Wallbridge, distance from Belleville, 9 miles. It is a good, sub­stantial, commodious building, with ample shed room for the teams of the ratepayers. The township contains about 68,400 acres of excellent land; its surface is somewhat rolling, well watered with several streams, the princi­pal of which is the Trent. Sidney has about 1,295 ratepayers, with a population of 6,475; assessed value, 1878, $2,588,755, which is one of the best
evidences of its prosperity. There is a large cheese manufacturing interest in the township of Sidney, its lands being well adapted for dairy purposes. There are scattered throughout the municipality several large cheese fac­tories, which annually turn out thousands of pounds of a superior quality of cheese, paying their several patrons well for their investments. The River Trent flows through the western part of the township and empties into the Bay of Trenton, it is spanned by two substantial covered bridges,
one at Trenton and the other at Frankford, affording to the farmers on either side an excellent means of passage. The Trent River was one of the original routes of Indian and French traders, and is of interest from the fact that Champlain is reported to have entered the Bay of Qninte by this means, and discovered Lake Ontario. Its Indian name was Ganaraske, and was sometimes called Quintio; millions of feet of squared timber and saw logs have been rafted over its turbulent waters on their way to the great markets of the old world.

Frankford, once a post village, is situated on the river Trent, in the township of Sidney, distance from Trenton about eight miles, Belleville four­teen miles, and Stirling seven miles. This village has made little progress of late years, its population and business being about the same as m 1870. It is thought that Abel Scott was the original settler and founder of this village. About the year 1837 he built a mill, and the place was known for many years as Scott's Mill, sometimes called Cole Creek, after the creek of that name, a tributary of the Trent, and upon whose water privileges these mids were located. At this date there was no bridge across the Trent, and the inhabitants were compelled to ford the stream, which often was full to its banks, and impassable. During Sir Francis Bond Head's administra­tion he visited Scott's Mills, and named the place Frankford, which name it has retained ever since. We have no date as to the precise time the bridge was built, but it was not until after several years had passed from the visit of the Lieut. Governor. The gravel road between Treuton and Frankford was completed about 1852. The village has flouring and saw-mills, a wool­len factory, tannery, pump factory, and several stores, taverns, etc,, good stone Public School building, and three churches — Canada Methodist, Epis­copal Methodist, and Roman Catholic. Sill's paper-mill is also located at this point; and in 1871 Roblins erected at considerable expense a dam across the Trent River, with an immense head of water, making it one of the finest mill privileges in the county, suitable for any description of manu­facturing purposes. Population about 500.

The incorporated village of Stirling, seven miles from Frankford, in the township of Rawdon, and northern boundary of Sidney, has portions of lots 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22 of this township within its limits.—See Rawdon.

The Belleville and Stirling, and Belleville, Frankford, and Stirling mac­adamized road runs through the township. The farmers seem to be in a well-to-do and prosperous condition, as is evidenced by the character of their several buildings, the well-cultivated fields, now covered with promising crops of grain, and the many acres of thriving fruit orchards everywhere to be met with throughout the municipality. School-houses and churches are located at various points, whose teachings are free as the air we breathe. Oak Lake is situated upon the Oak Hill range, in the north of the town­ship, is triangular in form, having an area of about 100 acres, and is some­thing of a natural curiosity. The water of the lake is pure and limpid, and abounds with rock bass and other species of fresh water fish. It has no apparent outlet, neither has any visible means of supply ever been dis­covered.

The Sine family, United Empire Loyalists, came to Sidney at an early date and located upon lots 23 and 24 in the 6th concession, on what is known as the Oak Hill range, and were the pioneer settlers in this section of the township. They are a numerous family, of much intelligence, owning a large quantity of valuable land and occupying respectable social positions in society.

Timothy Soper, son of Leonard Soper, was the first white child born in the Township of Sidney.