Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Transcription Tuesday's- James Bates

Good morning! Last week for Transcription Tuesday we found out a little bit about George Matheson. This week in the blacksmith’s ledger we will be looking at a page that was assigned to Mr. James Bates. According to Armstrong’s county of Elgin Directory for 1872, recording who would have resided in Tyrconnell at the time states that Bates was a farmer.

We could not find a great amount of information about James Bates other than that he was a local farmer. So we would like to ask that if you have any further information about him or the family, to please feel free to contact us. It would be much appreciated, as the local history of Tyrconnell is an important part of where we live today. The first entry on the James Bate page is November 12th, 1867 and the last being September 22nd, 1868.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Memory Mondays: Captain Leslie Patterson

By Sandra Sales

Lieutenant-Colonel Leslie Patterson

In 1800, three siblings, Leslie Patterson, Mary Storey and Fanny Patterson moved from County Fermanagh, Ireland, to Harbour Creek, Pennsylvania, on Lake Erie. While there, Leslie Patterson married Lydia Backus from Vermont, and his sister Fanny married John Pearce from Rhode Island. The third sibling, Mary Storey, was a widow who arrived in the United States with four children, Robert, Walter, Anne and Sarah. Her oldest son, Robert stayed in the US while the rest of the family came to Upper Canada. About this time, word was spreading that tracts of land in Upper Canada were opening for settlement. Patterson and his brother-in-law, John Pearce, scouted out this opportunity in 1808. They were drawn to a fledgling settlement on the north shore of Lake Erie that was under the control of Thomas Talbot. Talbot was offering settlers fifty free acres of good land and the possibility to buy more at $3 per acre. In addition, Talbot had provided his settlement with a grist mill, sawmill, cooper shop and blacksmith shop. The Patterson family group were the type of settlers that Thomas Talbot was looking for. They were industrious, loyal, well-equipped and of Irish origin, like himself. Lots were chosen and on July 14, 1809, Patterson and Pearce brought their families and belongings, legend has it, in an open flat-bottom boat along the shore of Lake Erie, 9 adults and 5 children in all. A hired hand and cattle travelled by land. A year later they were followed by Lydia’s brother, Stephen Backus. The Pattersons were flax growers in Ireland and they arrived with their flax wheels and looms. They settled in a cluster on lots 10, 11, 12 and 13 in Concession 10 of Dunwich Township. Together they developed a tight-knit and prosperous family community along the cliffs overlooking Lake Erie.

In 1810 Leslie Patterson wrote to his father-in-law, Joseph Backus, back in Pennsylvania, telling of their first year in the Talbot Settlement.

Our crops all look remarkably well. We had a good crop of flax, between three and four acres of excellent corn and I expect to have fifteen or twenty bushels of peas. Our wheat came off lighter this season than it commonly does in this county on account of drought in the beginning of the season, but it is very good and we have got it very well saved, besides a large crop of beans and potatoes and as much as four hundred heads of excellent cabbages.

I have got promising young stock. We have another very good cow and for the colt I sold when Stephen was with me I got a very likely pair of two-year-old steers and a pair of year-old bulls. We have got a good stock of hogs. I expect to be able to fat eight hundredweight of pork this fall and we have scarce ever been out of venison as good as ever was cut since we have been here.

But, war was looming. Thomas Talbot was commissioned Colonel of the 1st Regiment Middlesex Militia in 1812. Leslie Patterson was commissioned one of the 5 captains for the militia. His two brothers-in-law, John Pearce and Stephen Backus, and two nephews, Benjamin Willson and Walter Story, were also in the militia. There are few records available about Captain Patterson’s role, but it would appear he was often in charge at Port Talbot, which was Colonel Talbot’s home and centre of control, when Talbot was elsewhere. By 1814 the British had a very limited presence in the Western District. They had been forced back from Lake Erie and the Thames River valley. The local militia units were stretched to the limit defending the area and caring for their farms. Marauders roamed freely, hoping to capture local officers to disorganize the resistance of the militia. Colonel Talbot was a particular target. Consequently, in that year Port Talbot experienced at least 6 attacks: Nov 11, 1813 Captain Westbrook; May 20, 1814 Captain Westbrook; Aug 16 Captain Walker; Sept 8 Captain McCormick; Oct 15 Lieutenant Serviss; and Nov 17 General McArthur. Attacks became more severe as the summer progressed.

Captain Leslie Patterson is mentioned in the following two incidents:

On May 20 Port Talbot was attacked by thirty riflemen under the command of Andrew Westbrook. Fortunately, Colonel Talbot was at Long Point at the time. The settlement got a half hour warning and the settlers fled for a neighbouring township. Two groups of militia were called out but before they could be coordinated the enemy had entered the settlement and taken prisoner those who were left on guard. Patterson was captured at the blacksmith shop. He was paroled. The use of parole was common, particularly for militiamen who were captured whereby they would sign a document which pledged they would not take further part in the war.

August 16 – On this date, American militia and natives…arrive at Port Talbot with the intent of taking Colonel Talbot to Detroit… They also plan to ravage the settlement. This time Talbot is in residence and narrowly escapes. Talbot notices a large group of natives approaching and assumes that they are British supporters. Fortunately he sees that they are accompanied by Americans. Captain Leslie Patterson…encourages him to escape out the back door. Talbot has a reputation for dressing like his settlers. Attired in his farm clothes, he…walks slowly towards the ravine at the side of his house, descending the hill and crossing the creek. One of the Indians sees him and takes aim. Patterson seizes the rifle barrel and ingeniously tells him that his target is the Colonel’s old shepherd and that calling him is futile as he is deaf. The Indian believes him and Talbot remains a free man.
The War of 1812 in St. Thomas and Elgin County
Donna Hanson, St. Thomas Public Library

In 1826 the Patterson family replaced their initial log house with a large frame house “Sunnyside”. The Pattersons were Church of England adherents and welcomed travelling missionaries. Services as well as baptisms and the first confirmation in Elgin County were celebrated in this house. Over the ensuing years Leslie held a number of positions in the community. He was postmaster, magistrate, commissioner of roads, deputy to the land registrar, Mahlon Burwell, at times, and chairman of a gathering of landowners in 1817 to answer an agricultural survey. He was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel of the 1st Regiment Middlesex Militia in 1837.

Shortly after being commissioned as a magistrate in 1821, Patterson became embroiled in a court case over statutory labour for road maintenance. A disgruntled settler, Singleton Gardiner had refused to do his statutory labour and was refusing to pay the fine incurred. When two magistrates, Patterson being one, compounded Gardiner’s horse and wagon, Gardiner took them to court for trespassing. They were acquitted, but the case went on for a number of years and the community was divided in its loyalties between the “establishment”, represented here by Patterson, and those who were agitating for reform, represented by Gardiner.

Patterson also was in a land dispute in Kent County. He was granted a lot which was discovered to have been settled for some time. When the original settler couldn’t produce documentation he was ousted from the land and it was awarded to Patterson. This was perceived by some as an injustice in favour of a member of the establishment.

Leslie and Lydia Patterson had 9 children. Joseph 1807-1884; Walter 1808-1890; Mary 1810-1890; Hannah 1813-1913; Catherine Anne 1815-1896; Olivia 1818-1864; Leslie 1820-1825; Frances 1822-1881; Lydia 1825-1914

Colonel Leslie Patterson died on Apr. 26, 1852 at 78 years and Lydia (Backus) Patterson died on Aug. 16, 1870 at 86 years. They and many of the extended family are buried in St. Peter’s Anglican Church on adjoining land that was set aside for that purpose by Mary Storey, Patterson’s sister.*

Dates of birth and death for the extended Patterson family:

Leslie Patterson d. Apr. 26, 1852 at 78 years
Lydia (Backus) Patterson d. Aug 16, 1870 at 86 years
Fanny (Patterson) Pearce 1774 – Nov. 4, 1850
John Pearce 1777 - July 23, 1850
Mary (Patterson) Storey 1758 - July 22, 1842,
Robert Storey b. 1778
Walter Story/Storey b. 1783
Anne (Storey) Backus b. 1791
Stephen Backus b. Dec 25, 1786, d. Nov 4, 1865
Sarah (Storey) Willson b. 20th Oct 1792

*For information on the building of the church see Veteran number 372, Walter Storey.

Thank you to Sandra Sales for her research and work in honouring our War of 1812 veterans.  

Through the War of 1812 Graveside Project, Captain Leslie Patterson and others will be remembered with a ceremony in St. Peter's Anglican Church Cemetery on Sunday, July 12 at 1pm during Backus-Page House Museum's Living History Weekend July 11-12, 2015

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Behind The Scenes of Beds, Baths, and Beyond #8

·         Some settlers got their water from a nearby spring, but most dug a well as near to the house as they could because hauling water was backbreaking work, usually done by the women and children. 
·         People did not bathe or wash their clothes very often and when people did wash themselves or clothing, the dirty water was often thrown right outside the house so seeped into the nearby well, sometimes making it dirty or causing illness.
·         Water was boiled in pots over the fire and poured into a bathtub for those that could afford one. Bath water was shared. The head of household would be first and he would get the fresh warm water, and then the next person according to station.

Most people, except very rich people, didn’t use soap until about the second half of the 19th century.
Soap, made from tallow, was specifically for washing of clothes. Only the wealthy had access to the imported, specially wrapped, and expensive perfumed toilet soaps.
Soap could be bought at the general store, but most people preferred to make their own.  Basic soap was made from lye and grease.  Other ingredients, such as borax, ammonia, resin, wild ginger leaves and tallow of bayberry were sometimes added. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Seedy Saturday- Damask Rose

Happy Saturday everyone!  Today, we learn about a special kind of rose. 
Robert de Brie, a Crusader, is sometimes said to have brought the Damask rose from Syria to Europe sometime between 1254 and 1276. The name refers to a major city in Syria called Damascus. This plant became popular in the European gardens of noblemen and wealthy merchants, and for centuries, this rose has also been considered a symbol of beauty and love.

Roses are often thought of as having a nice scent as well.  Rose petals were used for their fragrance to make an expensive essential oil called altar of roses which was used in perfume.  It would take one and a half tons of fresh petals to make one pound of the oil!  They were also used to make rose water, in which the process for extracting rose water from rose petals in the early 11th century was invented by a Persian scientist, Avicenna.  These roses are also ideal for making potpourri, because they hold their fragrance so well when they are dried.

Not only were roses used for making perfume for Victorians, perhaps bought and worn by the settlers here in Elgin County, but they also loved the scent of violets.  Not only would they carry the scent of the violet on their skin, but they also ate violets, candied in cakes and pastries, and women would pin them to their dresses while men tucked them in their hat brims or wore them on their lapels.  Queen Victoria herself however, was ‘not amused’ by plenty of things, including the over-lavish use of fragrance.  Interesting how her people were not phased by their ruler’s distaste.
Have a great week ahead,
Catie Welch

Friday, June 26, 2015

Family History Friday: And Yet More Photographs

A photo album has just been donated to the museum collection and none of them are labelled.  The only writing we can find refers to Johnny Sloan, 1887.  If you have any idea who these people are or what family they may belong to (most likely Sloan, McArthur, Allen and others), please contact us.  The photo album is full so we will be posting more photographs over the next few weeks for Family History Fridays.  
Angela Bobier 519-762-3072  info@backuspagehouse.ca 


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Events to attend @ the Backus-Page House Museum

July is just around the corner, which means a variety of new exciting events to look forward to! 

History day camp begins July 2 and runs every Thursday in July and every Wednesday in August. Themes include; Neutral Indians, Talbot and the Early Settlers, Confederation, The Railroad, WW1, Roaring 20's, Dirty 30's, WW2, We Love the 50's and 60's, the Fur Trade and the 70's and 80's! Pre-register today!

Victorian tea parties are also beginning on July 5th. Enjoy a tour, tea and baked goods for only $10 per person. Teas are hosted in the parlour of the museum and served by costumed interpreters. Teas run every Sunday from 1-4pm. 

Every Tuesday and Friday in July and August St. Peter's Church will be open for tours! The Church will be open 10:00am- 4:30pm. Tours will cost $2.00 per person. 

You won't want to miss out on these incredible events! For more information please call 519-762-3072 or email info@backuspagehouse.ca. Also visit our website www.backuspagehouse.ca

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

World War Wednesdays Brain Log: Faces of History

     World War Wednesdays has definitely followed my historical career over the past year in a lot of ways, and I'm really excited to be able to look back on it in the future to see how far I've come. I figured it's been a while since I checked in and did a post for where I'm at right now, so here's a bit of a brain log for this week!

     If you didn't already know, I'm working for the summer at Elgin County Archives and it's already been almost a month! In this short time, I've already learned a lot and it's made me think a lot about my perspective on life and ideas about history. Most significantly, I've been thinking a lot about what is left to remember a person long after they are gone.

     Since my job involves newspaper digitization, I deal with materials that sometimes cover the better part of a person's life. Newspapers in the past covered so much more of the events in people's lives, and I've come across so many unbelievable, interesting, and tragic stories about the fine folks of Elgin County. I've also learned a lot just by flipping over some of these articles. I've encountered articles about historical events involving some of the more notable Canadians that I read about more often, and some that are comically indicative of how much things have changed (like why people should think about buying a smoke alarm and how women should react to their husband's cheating). Reading these newspapers and the people's stories has really added a personal element to the history, and that's one of my favorite parts.

     This brings us to the topic that literally makes me feel sick and want to curl up in a ball of tears. The fact that more and more, the little pieces of the past that we have in print are becoming the only thing we have of that time as the people themselves disappear. There are fewer and fewer people everyday who can tell us what life was like when Diefenbaker was Prime Minister or when ladies followed etiquette books.

     I guess what I'm trying to say is that we should all take advantage of the faces of history that are near to us before they are just a photograph in a newspaper. Go call your grandma and ask her something out of left field about her life in, say, the 1960s and I guarantee she'll love answering. It's something that people love talking about but rarely get the chance, and I promise you'll appreciate the new perspective.

    I've had the privilege of meeting several Holocaust survivors and veterans, and those are some of the most memorable experiences of my life. As time marches on, such experiences have become increasingly rare, but I hold them very dearly when they do happen. I've also come to realize and appreciate the histories of the people a bit closer to me, and I think that we could all benefit from tuning in to what our older relatives can tell us about life. And if you've missed an opportunity or wish you knew more, you'd be surprised at the kinds of things you can find at Elgin County Archives.

Here's a link if you'd like to start exploring:

Thanks for reading,