Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Talbot Times Tidbits - June 1984 - From the St Thomas Times Journal

First Newspaper
The St. Thomas Journal was the first newspaper established in the community. It began publication in 1831 and was followed by the Liberal in 1832.

City Lights
Street lights made their debut in St. Thomas in 1898. The Street Railway Company installed a generator to electrify its lines and made the move possible.

Early Education
One of the first glimmerings of education in St. Thomas was the establishment of a seminary in 1824, less than 15 years after Daniel Rapelje and David Mandeville built the first pioneer homes in the settlement.

This was a large, wooden, one-room building and the teachings of the first schoolmaster, Stephen Randall, were supported largely by pupil fees.

The first common and grammar schools were erected on Port Stanley Street, now Stanley Street, in 1832.

Talbot Times Tidbit - Dec 1984 - Elgin Handles Ltd.

Elgin Handles is the oldest woodworking industry in St. Thomas, and still operates from the site on which it began in 1887. Elgin Handles Ltd is one of the many retail stores in St Thomas, Ontario, located at 21 Kains St.

It began as John Heard and Company, which started at Lambeth in 1866, moved to Amherstburg in 1878, then on November 26, 1886 signed an agreement with the City of St. Thomas in which it promised to erect a two-storey brick building, 40 x 100 feet, for “manufacturing wheels and other wooden work for carriages,” and to employ an average of forty men daily.

The company purchased property adjacent to the London & Port Stanley Railway on January 14, 1877, and erected a factory in December that same year.

The deaths of John Heard Jr. in 1896, Heard Sr. in 1897, and the early withdrawal of the two sons-in-law finally left William the only member of the original partnership.

He was soon joined by his younger brothers Richard and Robert, additional property purchased, new sheds erected, and by 1906 the firm was employing an average of fifty men.

But if fell on difficult times, and by 1912 had only twelve employees. The advent of the motor car, and failure to develop new product lines may have caused the decline.

Meanwhile, 1915, George P. Smith, Joseph Lewis and his son Charles had formed “The Elgin Handle Company, business to be carried on in the premises of Head and Company or some other premises.” Smith was the business manager. The Lewises, who had worked for the J. H. Still Handle Company, were the operators. At first, the new company operated in premises rented fro
Heard, but on December 2, 1918 Elgin Handles purchased the Heard property from Molson’s Bank.

The new firm erected a warehouse which was burned in 1933 and rebuilt immediately. After the Second World War, it carried out extensive renovations on the old Heard building.

Like its predecessor, Elgin Handles purchased most if its material locally, but a bird and a pest changed all that. In the early 1930s a pest killed the chestnut trees which had been a favourite of the sapsuckers. These birds then turned their attention to the local hickory trees, eventually making them unsuitable for handles, and the firm had to purchase hickory from Tennessee.

Despite many alterations and additions, and five serious fires in its 97-year history, the original brick building erected in 1887 is still an important part of the plant complex.

In 1983 the company opened a second plant in the local industrial park, and concentrated its new tool division there. Sixty percent of the handle material, mainly hickory comes from Tennessee, forty percent from local sources - mainly white ash, maple, and some hickory which invariably shows signs of sapsucker activity.
The firm has six manufacturing agents in Canada, and also sells to Britain, West Germany Norway, New Zealand, and the United States. Some customers have dealt with the firm since the early 1900s.

Material for this article was taken from "Loyal She Remains", the new U.E.L. book.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Charles Lawrance - Yeoman - Talbot Times Tidbit from 1986

From June 1986 Talbot Times
Queries on past articles can be directed to


(Family names – Lawrence, Hosack, Hossick, Lale, Laclan, Stafford, Griffin, Zavitz)
Recently I recovered the “Last Will and Testament” of Charles Lawrance, Yeoman, Lot 28, Concession 5, Township of Yarmouth, initiated on the l4th day, the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Seventy-Four. Although I’m conducting a genealogy research project on the HOSACK family of the Township of Yarmouth, this document was provided by the Land Registry Office, St. Thomas, Elgin County, in order to verify my families land ownership.
What makes it (the Will) so interesting is the fact that he Charles Lawrance, gave away most of his land to those tenants residing on the Lot/Concession. It would appear that he was a most prosperous farmer and his generosity was clearly related through his Will.
The document was broken down into nine segments making provisions for the distribution of his wealth as follows:
1)    To George Lale, Township of Yarmouth, his foreman, the sum of Twleve Hundred Dollars (1,200.00) plus One Hundred Dollars (100.00) to his five children.
2)    To Charles A. Lachlan, a minor, now living with me (Charles Lawrance) the sum of Four Thousand Five Hundred Dollars (4,500.00) and an additional Five Hundred Dollars (500.00) be paid to the other surviving children of Francis L. Lachlan, who at this time was residing in the State of Michigan, U.S.A.
3)    To Henry Stafford of the Township of Malahide, Yeoman, the sum of Six Hundred Dollars (600.00) to be distributed to himself and his own children.
4)    To Obadiah Griffin of the Township of Yarmouth the northerly twenty-five acres of the south half of Lot number Twenty-eight on the Fifth Concession of said Township of Yarmouth.
5)    To Francis Lawrance, of the Township of Yarmouth the next twenty-five acres of the said Lot.
6)    To Henry Hossick (sic) of the Township of Yarmouth the next twenty-five acres of the said south half Lot.
7)    To Osmen Zavitz, a blind person, the southerly twenty-five acres of said south half Lot.
8)    The remainder of my estate, real and personal of what nature to my wife, Harriet Lawrance, subject only to the payment of my just debts, funeral and testamentary expenses.
9)    Lastly, he appointed his wife, Harriet Lawrance sole executrix of his last Will and Testament and revoked all former wills.
Charles Lawrance must have been aware that his time was near as he prepared this, his “Last Will and Testament”. He died within a very short time and his Will was filed for probate on the 6th day of August 1874. Witnesses signing the document were: William E. Murray, of the village of Aylmer, in the County Of Elgin, Conveyancer and George F. Clark of the village of Aylmer in the County of Elgin, Physician.
Altogether, Charles Lawrance, Yeoman, gave away 100 acres of land and over Six Thousand Nine Hundred Dollars (6,900.00) to his Friends and neighbors.

The above was submitted by. . . . MSgt. Edward A. Craig, 107 FIG/ DPMH, Niagara Falls IAP, New York, U.S.A.

Bela Shaw - First Postmaster - Rebel Suspect?

St Thomas Times Journal
17 July 1958 – Page 16, c4
Submitted by Carol Van Harn
Bela Shaw, believed to have been the first of at least one the earliest of St Thomas postmasters, had a most interesting and in some respects painful experience while a resident of the little  settlement that had is beginning in the Kettle Creek Valley and gradually climbed the hill to the east to what is now West Talbot Street.  Shaw, according to Judge C. O. Ermatinger’s “The Talbot Regime”, was an amiable American, with republican ideas, became in the rebellious years (the 1830’) a suspect and after having been prosecuted - or as some thought, persecuted - finally left the country.
Shaw, like many others of that time came to the St Thomas district from the United States, probably Ohio, sometime it is presumed, in the 1820’s.  Judge Ermatinger classifies him as one of the earliest business men, the then thriving village and records that he succeeded the Bigelow’s in the black salts and potash trade, which was established by the head of the Bigelow family, Lucius.  This industry, then quite important was located in the valley near the VanBuskirk brewery, but apparently Shaw also had a store or business of some sort in premises at the top of the hill on Talbot Street near King Street.
Just when Shaw was appointed postmaster is not known.  It may have been at the time the first post office was established in 1831, or later, nor is the actual time of his dismissal or resignation from that post known.  The facts concerning his connection with the rebellious element and his decision to return to the United States are recorded in “The Talbot Regime”, as follows:
‘The rebellion was the cause of many incidents which would have been amusing were they not fraught with serious consequences to the persons most affected.  Americans and advanced Liberals were alike regarded with extreme suspicion.  Many were the victims of prosecutions, some of petty persecutions.  It has been seen that John Talbot’s Liberal newspaper at St Thomas was suppressed.  The inoffensive merchant, Bela Shaw of the same place, being an American, whose store was a sort of Liberal rendezvous, was regarded with the greatest suspicion.  He was invited to join the Volunteers who went to meet Dr Duncombe (one of the leaders in the movement) and his army, and considered it impolitic to decline the invitation.  He was not a man of war and in witnessing the rough treatment and sportation of some of his political friends by the loyalist.  After his return Colonel Mahlon Burwell made an effort to have him imprisoned, but could not prevail on the magistrates to do so on insufficient evidence.   Eventually he sold out and left the country for the States, where he lived to a good age.”
Bela Shaw was succeeded in the postmastership by Edward Ermatinger, whose place of business was in the block at the south-east corner of Talbot and Church streets.