Monday, March 31, 2014

Elgin Branch Of the Ontario Genealogical Society April, May, June Meetings

Everyone Welcome

Date: Monday, April 28, 2014 at 7:00 pm
Speaker: Kathryn Lake Hogan
Topic: Mapping Your Ancestors’ Footsteps
Discover why maps are so important to family historians
Place: St. Thomas Public Library, Carnegie Room
Location: 153 Curtis Street, St. Thomas

Date: Monday, May 26, 2014 at 7:00 pm
Speaker: Rick Roberts
Topic: Researching Canadian WWI Records using Online and Traditional Resources
Place: St. Thomas Public Library, Carnegie Room
Location: 153 Curtis Street, St. Thomas

Date: Monday, June 23, 2014 at 7:00 pm
Speaker: Jeff Booth
Topic: The Old St. Thomas Church
Its rich history and its military connections
Tour: weather permitting
Place: The Old St. Thomas Church
Location: 55 Walnut Street, St. Thomas

For further information contact us at

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Photographing Elgin County Ontario Canada

The Elgin County Branch OGS has volunteers who will take specific photographs of cemetery stones, historic areas, churches etc. in Elgin County to the best of their ability.

We accept photograph requests either through our postal mailing address, or through e-mail.

The fee of $10.00 for the first request & $5.00 for further requests include the cost for digital images. Mail & hard copy requests will be dealt with on an individual basis.

Payment can be made by a cheque payable to "Elgin OGS", and sent to our address, Box 20060, St. Thomas, ON N5P 0B5

US residents can pay by personal check in US funds.  We do not accept credit cards or Paypal.

Requests can be made by writing us at that address or via e-mail to:

Before contacting Elgin OGS for assistance, please review your information carefully. To assist our volunteers in answering your query effectively, please give as much information as possible. Please indicate a time period (eg. 1850's, 1860's, etc.) and a location within Elgin County such as town or township, name of item for photographing. Email for research assistance, or write us at the address above. 

Please Note
To help us process the hundreds of email queries that we regularly receive please indicate the name you are inquiring about and the township (if known) in your email subject line. Please CAPITALIZE your surname.

For example:
Subject: Fingal Cemetery, John JOHNSON 1849-1890, Southwold Township

Monday, March 24, 2014

World War 1 - 100th Anniversary - Southwold Remembers - The War Years

With the upcoming 100th anniversary of World War 1
(28 July 1914 - 11 November 1918) Elgin OGS will focus on listing names of soldiers & articles in the Blog & Talbot Times newsletter.

A book titled "Southwold Remembers the War Years was published in 2002 by the Southwold Memorial Committee and contains individual stories, bios and photo's of individuals from the area. Copies of this book are available through the Southwold Township Office 1-519-769-2010 for a fee of $20 dollars.

The June edition of the Talbot Times will contain further lists of names. Contact Elgin OGS for further details.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Belmont Elgin Cty., historical facts - Talbot Times Tidbit

Belmont historical facts

Courtesy of Elgin County Archives – Tweedsmuir Histories – Belmont Pages 17-20

This document contains a multitude of family surnames from the early Belmont area.
The first doctor came in 1850, Dr Hensely followed by Dr Fleck, Dr Cline Sr., 1855-1863. Paid Dr McCallum $1000 forfeit & practiced till death in 1876. Dr Spencer 1864-1892. Dr J.B. Campbell 1867-1888 sold to Dr M. Campbell who sold to Dr Chas. Cline in 1890 who sold to Dr Meldrum in 1896. Dr H.E. Arkell began practice in 1897, Dr Franklin 1890 stayed a short time, Dr Archie Mc Tavish in 1891-1892.

The first school in 1845 was in the house eventually owned by W.H .Soole. First school house 1846 on the street between Wm. Dyer & W.T. Nugent, second school on the premises eventually owned by Hugh McCallum. The present school was built in 1887. The first teacher Daniel Gillis, followed by Miss Christena Atkins, Omie Dyer, Solomon Smith, Miss Smith in 1853, D. Danard 1854, D.W. Eckhart 1855, Miss Walker 1856, Joseph Potts, W.W. Campbell. Doug. McBrayne, Colin McArthur Sr., Archie McMillen, L. Fleckenstrene, Norman McDonald, Jas. H. Smith, Mr. Steele, J.O. Lewis, Mr. Hopkins, S. Baker, Carlton Luton, John Empey, W.R. Manning, Miss McLean, J.W. McRoberts, E. Wyatt assisted by Miss Fanny Webster & Miss Mary McCord.

L. Tibbits opened a wagon shop in 1856 selling to S. Dumaw in 1858 who sold to John Wilson in 1859 and later taken over by Archie McKellar 1864.
The first harness shop owned by H. Hemstreet 1855, sold to McPhail Bros in 1862. Kirby Gregory harness shop 1860-1865. James Campbell harness shop 1867. Samuel Hill harness shop 1876-1878. Alonzo Tibbits harness shop 1857-59. Eli Hungerford Furniture & Cabinet maker 1850-1874. R.J. Fonger blacksmith 1878. Hugh McCallum blacksmith 1890.

The Post Office moved from Squire Mannings one mile north of Belmont 1853.
First stage was run by John Prowse 1855, 3 trips per week until 1862 when a daily mail started by Lewis Olmstead 1862-1878, followed by George Davidson and Randall Learn 1880-82, John Charles 1882-86, of Belmont House followed by Chancey Barrows 1886-90, and again John Charles 1890-97 and then taken over by Arthur Christie.

First flax mill was owned by Robert Hughes and John Nicol 1866-71, when it was burned in 1874, rebuilt and sold to D. McKellar and son in 1878-79. It was then leased to a company D.F. Jelly, Dr J.B. Campbell, and Wm. Dyer and W.H. Odell, burned in 1879. Second mill by Donald, Archie & John McKellar 1869-72, succeeding by Thomas Harkness and John McKellar 1872-75, then sold to Nicols Bros who closed the mill.

In 1883 Smith Bros bought a flax mill in Springfield and moved it to Belmont being in business till 1895 and then leased to a company – WH Odell, Secty., Treas., Wm. Dyer, W.H. Fawcett, W.H. Soole & Omie Dyer 1895-97, when the mill closed and was torn down in 1899.

The shoe shop was owned by Robert Creamer 1854-66, Joshua Kendree 1866-69, Jas. Creamer 1869-72, Orlando Doan 1890.

David Hoover owned a bakery 1868-77, succeeded by Daniel Tibbits 1877-80, James Kindrree 1880-82, Lewis Kindree 1882-84, Alex Crawford 1884-86, Arch. McPhail 1886-97, Fred W. Farquarhar 1897-99 succeeded by A.D. McCallum
Dr Cline & H. Tooley owned a cheese factory 1869-74, Samuel Davidson 1874-84, John Evans 1884-98, W. Fitzpatrick 1898.

Adam Allison Bank & grain dealer 1885-91.

Credit Valley R.R. with A. Allison agent 1883, succeeded by Cook, Lusby, W.C. Forsythe 1894.

The first veterinary surgeon was DR Deacon 1878-80, Dr Jas. Campbell 1888-89, King 1889-91, Guest 1893-94, McGuffin 1894-96, Cunningham, 1896-98, A.D. McLachlin 1898.

The first butcher was Richard Wagoner in the early seventies – 82, D. R. Dibb 1882-88, John McLary 1888-90, followed by Harry l. Smith, McLary, Geo. W. Falls.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dr. Elijah Duncombe's Home

St Thomas Times Journal, 9 April 1955, Second Section, Page 13, c1

Interesting Pioneer History Surrounds Residence Built by Dr Elijah Duncombe,
by Gladys E. Elliott

            The decision of the Women’s Institutes of Elgin County to purchase the historic home of Mr & Mrs Bramwell Saywell at 32 Talbot Street for an Elgin County Museum is reviving much interesting pioneer history.  There is widespread general interest in the project and a particular interest on the part of descendants of the pioneer families who resided in this beautiful old home.
            Among the latter is Mrs John Butler Wilkinson of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, whose mother, the late Mrs Ida Morris of Madison, Wisconsin was born in the old home in 1858, when it belonged to the latter’s grandfather, Dr Elijah Eli Duncombe.  That is going back to very early history indeed, for according the to the first book of records in the Registry Office here, it was on Sept 19 1833, that Elijah E. Duncombe bought for 125 Pounds, two acres of Lots 1 and 2 commencing on the south side of Talbot Road and the North West angle of said Lot 1, thence south on the Western limit of the township of Yarmouth 8 chains 50 links more or less to the North limit to Walnut Street.  Thence Easterly along the North side of Walnut Street 2 chains 95 links more of less to Talbot Road. Thence Westerly along the South side of Talbot Road three chains more or less to the place of beginning.
            Mrs Wilkinson happens to be collecting material at present for a history of the Duncombe family, which she plans to write, her research going back even to the tracing of the family history in England.  From information given her by her mother and also by her aunt Mrs P. M. Thompson of Windsor, the former Clara Moore, Mrs Wilkinson gives a good picture of the home many years ago.
            It is understood that Dr and Mrs Elijah E. Duncombe first lived in the home just west of the present 32 Talbot Street, the house now occupied by Mr and Mrs S. A. Hammond and also a historic residence.  There, their three older daughters were born.  Dr Duncombe later took over the practice of his brother, Dr Charles Duncombe and Dr J. D. Curtis in his history ‘St Thomas Medical Men of the Past.” Records that at that time he also acquired his brother’s home and office.  The fourth of the Duncombe sisters, Mary was born in 1836 at 32 Talbot Street, states Mrs Wilkinson.
            Mary Duncombe was married to Nelson Whitney Moore in 1856 and they lived for a time at the home of her parents and it was there that their daughter, Ida, was born in 1858, and also several other of their children, it is believed.  Dr Elijah Duncombe died in 1870, is wife, Catherine Bouck Duncombe having predeceased him in 1863 or 1864 while on a visit to a daughter in Racine, Wisconsin.
            Ida Moore Morris, who lived in Madison, Wisconsin after her marriage, revisited St Thomas frequently, as have also her daughters, Mrs Wilson, (the former Kathryn Morris) and Miss Margaret Morris who resides with her sister in Milwaukee.  They have always maintained a keen interest in the city and in the old home.  There, an interesting record is still to be seen in the front upper east room, where Mrs Morris was born, for while living there, she scratched her name and those of two of her brothers on the glass of a window with a diamond of her mother’s .  Part of that inscription is still clear on the original glass and the ‘engraver’ was apparently very young at the time for she chose the lower middle pane for her writing.
            From her mother’s description, Mrs Wilkinson pictures the old home.  When Mrs Morris was a girl, there were two kitchens extending to the south of the house, a summer one and a winter one; also a woodshed.  There seem to have been many buildings in the spacious grounds too - a privy, chicken coops, huts for ducks and geese, pig pens, cow shed and a barn for saddle and driving horses.
            Also, in those days, there was a quite large one room playhouse, built for Mrs Morris as a child, which stood on the west side of the yard.  A considerable part of the garden and farmyard was sold to the railroad, when the Canada Southern went through.
            As for the house itself, as Mrs Wilkinson remembers having heard about it and seeing it, she believes the back room on the east to have been the doctor’s consulting room.  This always had an outside entrance for patients, on the east side, and there was a porch over it.  Later the steps were removed and a ramp built when the room was occupied by Charles E. Moore, who used a wheelchair after the loss of both legs in a railroad accident.
            The front east room, where the doctor mixed and dispensed drugs, is described as having a bay window near the front corner, which held large bottles of green and red fluid and bottles of live leeches.  The colored bottles at night had candles behind them to guide persons seeking the doctor, as the streets were not lighted.  Twice, four years apart, reports Mrs Wilkinson, runaway horses raced down Talbot Street and plunged through the window, wrecking glasses and supplies.
            It is possible that the rear west room was the doctor’s bedroom when he was in active practice as is had easy access to the consulting room.  The front west room is described as the parlor.  Dr Elijah Duncombe retired from active practice about six years before his death in 1870 and about that time, the east rooms were changed, the bay removed, and a partition removed between the front and back rooms, making another large living room.  The partition was later restored for a room for the use of Charles E. Moore.
            After the Duncombes, and Moores, the Thornton family, also very well known in St Thomas resided in this historic home until it was purchased in December 1921 by Mr & Mrs James Saywell and their son and daughter-in-law Mr & Mrs Bramwell Saywell, who took up residence there in January 1922.
            Formerly residing near Talbotville, Mr & Mrs James Saywell must have known this lovely old home well even before they moved into the city, when they lived for a short time on Wilson Avenue.  They would pass it every time they came into town, and Talbot Street was then practically on a level with the house.  Later too, they would pass it whenever they took the street car, which went around that corner, and when it was offered for sale, Mrs James Saywell knew it was a place she wanted to make their home.  She still resides there with her son and daughter-in-law, but Mr Saywell Sr. passed away a number of years ago.
            When the family took over the old home, it still had the two big kitchens and woodshed, extending to the south.  This old wing was forty-six feet long, longer that the main house was wide in fact, and part of it was two storeys high.  The east side of the first kitchen, which was about a third of the forty-six feet, came within a few feet of the hedge which bounded the east side of the lawn.  The entrance was from the east, while the second, summer kitchen, had an entrance to the west.  A giant Dutchman’s pipe vine covered the south and east sides of this wing.
            Not being needed for its original purposes and as it was falling into a state of disrepair, this wing was torn down shortly after the Saywell family moved into the home, clearing away what seems obviously to have been an addition to the original home, and making place for an attractive lawn and garden.
            At the back of the present lot there used to be a barn, which Mr Saywell was told might at one time have been a parochial school in connection the Old English Church.  It had a wainscoting of very wide horizontal boards and was plastered above that.  A house has replaced this building a few years ago.
            The Saywell family has been appreciative of the historic interest of the house and its pioneer architecture and have avoided major changes in the main structure of the house.  A window or two have been added for needed lighting and a partition that had been taken out previously has been restored.  The present porch was put on about twenty years ago about the time the Talbot Street hill was cut and the present permastone covering was put on about seven years ago, adding much to the comfort of the old house, which has been made a very attractive home.