Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Become A Member of the Elgin Branch OGS

If you have family history you are searching in Elgin County, Ontario Canada are you interested in becoming a member of the Elgin County Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society?

If so, visit How to become a member and select Elgin as your branch.

Talbot Times Tidbit - Iona, Elgin County Ontario - 1862

A Band of Gypsies in Iona – 1862 - page 12 to 21 – Southwold Tweedsmuir Histories

Credit for this article - Elgin County Archives

Surnames: Lumley, Mills, Taylor, Williams, Burwell

Many years ago, if my memory serves me rightly, in November, 1862, a band of gypsies came through our county; said to hail from Missouri; and had fled from the United States on account of the approaching Civil War. The inhabitants of Grove Farm, (the home of Samuel Williams, Mrs. Lumley's father, situated on the town line between Iona and Burwell's Corners), were startled one cold bleak afternoon to see a procession of cove red wagons coming over the hills from Iona. We thought it was the wrong time of year for Barnum's show, but it looked like it. Well, we stood out on the veranda watching them loom up the last hill, when behold they turned in Mr. Hannibal Burwell's woods opposite our lane.

There were something over a hundred all told, men women and children, and there seemed to be about as many dogs and half as many horses. They started pitching their tents and everyone was yelling and the dogs barking, and we were almost scared out of our wits. In a little while some of the men came and wanted straw for their beds and hay for their horses. Of course, father let them have everything they wanted, for I guess he thought if he didn't we might all be murdered before morning.

The hen coop was locked that night for the first time in its life and the stable, too, for we were afraid the chickens would all be stolen and we might be all murdered before morning. Next day several of the women came to buy provisions, 2 cents worth of potatoes, 5 cents worth of butter, 1 cent worth of vinegar and so on. Mother, kind old soul, who wasn't of the stingy sort, gave them five times as much as they should have had. Of course, they all wanted to tell her fortune, but she didn't want to hear it.

To our great relief, we soon found out that they were a peaceable, well behaved bunch, dressed well and had lots of money. There were then three hotels in Iona and they did nothing all winter but go to town and treat and trade horses. Their money was all ten dollar gold pieces and the people said John Mills, one of the hotel keepers, got rich that winter.

The Free Will Baptist held a quarterly meeting in Iona in February. On Sunday we had a roast turkey for dinner and about twenty people to help eat it and among the number was Elder William Taylor who had given out in the morning service that he would preach to the gypsies at 2 o 'clock. He was a talented man and could say more in 20 minutes than any other man could in 40. So after dinner we all went down to the encampment and he got up in a wagon and preached. They spread blankets on the ground for the people to stand on. There was one woman, they said, was over a hundred years old and she stayed in a tent. They had a blood hound that weighed over a hundred pounds and they always kept him chained and his bark at night, echoing through the woods, was enough to frighten Old Nick.

Christmas Day they brought two geese for us to roast. The feathers were off but the down left on. I presume it would be more digestible. On New Year's Day one of the girl s came dressed in purple and white silk and had dinner with us. Some of the boys played the violin very nicely; two of them came in one evening and we heard lots of music. I remember one of those pieces was ''Annie Laurie."

In the spring when the roads were settled and dry they packed up and traveled.
(From the Diary of Mrs. Dama Lumley, of Iona.)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Biographical Sketches of Some Elgin County Residents

Link to a digitized book entitled "Biographical Sketches of Some Elgin County Residents"
Biographical Sketches of Some Elgin County Residents 

Website for further Elgin County records

Digitized records from Ontario Archives for Elgin County, Ontario Canada

Ontario Archives digitized records for Elgin County 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Elgin Branch OGS - October 20th meeting

Elgin Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society October Meeting

Everyone Welcome

Date: Monday, October 20, 2014 at 7:00 PM

Speaker: Len Hendershott

Topic: “Beyond Doubt - The Murder of William Henry Hendershott”
The Hendershott-Welter Murder in Elgin County

Place: St. Thomas Public Library - The Carnegie Room

Location: 153 Curtis Street, St. Thomas

In "Beyond Doubt - The Murder of William Henry Hendershott", the author describes an insurance fraud, a murder and two hangings.
Retired IT consultant Len Hendershott, formerly of St. Thomas and now of Toronto, presents a fascinating account of the infamy that occurred in Elgin County just prior to 1900

Friday, October 10, 2014

Iona Dominion Day 1867 - Surnames Riddle, Sinclair, Maryfield, Morris, Sutherland, Boston, Dolsen, Lumley, Burgess

Talbot Times Tidbit - Iona Dominion Day – page 15 – Southwold Tweedsmuir Histories

Credit for this article - Elgin County Archives

Article Surnames: Riddle, Sinclair, Maryfield, Morris, Sutherland, Boston, Dolsen, Lumley, Burgess

In old Iona's long and eventful history, one day stands out in blocked letters - Dominion Day 1867. In the long ago Iona led a hectic, vigorous life; many were the occasions for celebration - and Iona celebrated. No day can quite compare with that heralding Confederation, however. 

A town of 600 over flows with 2,000 whites and 200 Indians. From every direction, from the lake shore on the south, and the more sparsely settled river district on the north, they had driven, and those who could not drive, walked. It was a day long to be remembered. Games, dancing and horse-racing provided amusement aplenty.

The Townline was then a dirt road and on it were seen the horse races. Starting about where the highway cuts the Townline, the horses raced down through the village, the roadway made a narrow lane, the densely packed spectators on either side. The soft loose dirt muffled the rythmic beat of the horses' feet, and if the time made, bears no comparison to that of a horse race today, the personal interest in each owner and his horse quite overshadowed the question of actual speed. 

William Burgess, grocer and general storekeeper, had booth on the edge of the common grounds and J.O. Lumley, then a spent a busy day of carrying stuff from the store to the booth. Living at Iona, being postmaster and having an interest with his general store set up a refreshment booth of 11 years.Mr. Lumley's recollection of July l, 1867, is as vivid as though that memorable day were but five years back. The competition to catch the greasy pig was one of the wildest and mirth provoking events of the long day, and it is doubtful whether, when it was all over, if the pig, then securely tied, were more exhausted than the young men who had been endeavoring to catch him. It was customary for farmers to allow pigs to run unmolested, gleaning their living in the woods. Naturally, they became as wild as their forest haunts. It was one of these wild pigs which had been brought to the village, greased and turned loose.

The slow horse race presented the unusual spectacle of an Indian on a fleet pony racing past the judges, rods and rods ahead of the decrepit old plugs and their becoming highly indignant when not allowed the prize money. In this race farmers entered their oldest animals, one man by the name of Hunter, even driving up from New Sarum with a horse which he was quite agreeable to match against a turtle and bet on the turtle finishing first. The owner had to ride the horse of another man, the object being to urge it to the utmost so the rider's own horse would come in last. But the Indian, Joe Dolson, by name, had not been informed of the nature of the race. His pony could have raced backwards and still beaten many of the entrants down the stretch.

Later in the day Joe competed in the mile foot race, where his chances of success were regarded as extremely good. But, Joe, after the disgusting affair of the horse race, had been filling up on fire water, and in the foot race he stumbled and fell, breaking his shoulder. The incident of Dolson recalls another foot race, that same summer. Two Indians were matched to race from Fingal to Iona, the prize to be a bottle of liquor. By the time Peter Sutherland's farm had been reached, one Indian had established a lead of a quarter of a mile. The second Indian straining in the rear, carried a short stick in his hand, as do many runners. Working on Sutherland's farm was William Maryfield and when he saw the two coming down the road, he ran out and intercepted the second runner to learn what crime had been committed. 'Me no time - race - Fingal, Iona", panted the runner, and brushed past. (From the records of Miss Victoria Munroe, first Historical Research Convenor). In a paper read by Mrs. Robert Morris to the Iona Women's Institute in 1932, we read: 'The first Iona Dominion Day celebration was begun by Alex Boston, Walter Riddle and Duncan Sinclair. There was a fine Oneida Indian and parade, foot races and games'.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Southwold Earthworks and searching your Native History in Elgin County Ontario

For those researchers tracing their native roots in Southwold Township, Elgin County near Iona Ontario you may find the following links on the Southwold Earthworks helpful. It is believed these earthworks were inhabited about 1450 to 1550. They are located west of St Thomas, Ontario Canada on a tributary of Talbot Creek. Further details can be found in the links provided. These early inhabitants were Attiwandaronk, and their village remains are also described in the references. These remains are still visible today.

In 1923 Parks Canada recognized the earthworks as a National Historic Site

Historic Marker

Tweedsmuir History – Southwold Earthworks