The James Adams Family
[Ode to a Headband] [Princey The Wonder Dog] [Genealogy]
James Adams,his wife Fanny (Baxter) and two young daughters Sarah and Matilda sailed from Londonderry Northern Ireland in 1825. Accompanying them on this voyage were James's father and mother William and Sarah and three brothers and two sisters. (Robert,Samuel,William,Jane,& MaryAnn) No one knows why they decided to leave Ireland at this time. Perhaps money was sent for the family to come to Canada by Fannys' brothers. Who could have already been there at this time. But we shall probably never know this for certain. What follows is a family history written by Thomas Adams in 1911. This history was found in an old secretary used by Thomas at the old homestead,some years ago.
"The writer of this story was born in Prince Edward County, township of Ameliasburg Nov 24th 1830. My father and mother came from Ireland five years previously. They came on a sailing vessel; it took them nine weeks to cross the ocean. My father's parents both died on the way out and were buried at sea.
My father, on arriving in Canada came up the country as far as Prince Edward county. That county was thinly settled at that time, but he succeeded in renting a log house and barn with a small clearing of land on it. He was married at that time and had two children. He worked the farm in the summer. In the winter he followed weaving to get a little ready cash.
After living in that county for eleven years, he (with a younger brother, a young man then of about twenty years) decided to come farther west. In the beginning of 1836, they started with a span of horses and sleigh, for the west. After about a week of travelling. They stopped in the township of Camden , county of Lambton, two and a half miles south of the village of Florence (at that time called Zone Mills) My father rented a farm from a man by the name of Hughson (a Methodist preacher). He rented it for a year to give him time to look around for a farm to buy. Before spring he had secured a farm with a log house, stable and a small clearing. The farm was about two and a half miles southeast of Florence, in what was then called the Fansher settlement. After securing the farm, he then wrote to my mother to come in the spring when the navigation opened up.
About the beginning of April 1836, my mother started to come west with her family. She had six children Now, four were having been born since arriving in Canada. She had to come by team to Coburg (about thirty miles), then by way of Lake Ontario on the Welland Canal to Chippawa. From Chippawa she had to have her goods taken by team to Fort Erie. Then they were taken across from there to Black Rock on what was called a "horse boat." I will try to describe that boat. It was an open boat with a horse tied to a post. The horse stood on a large flat wheel. When the horse began to pull, the wheel would move around under him, and that set the side wheels in motion. That is the way the boat was propelled from Fort Erie to Black Rock.
On arrival at Black Rock we took passage on a steamboat (called the Eclipse), for Detroit. There was a railroad running from Black Rock to Buffalo at that time. The captain of the boat, some of the passengers , and my mothers' brothers wanted to be ahead of the boat to buy provisions and have them ready when the boat got there. When the boat got up the lake somewhere opposite Buffalo she hit an ice flow and stuck there for three days. Several men came out of the city in canoes and tried to reach us, but could not because of the ice. On the third day a boat called the "Cynthia" broke through the ice and towed the boat we were in, out to Buffalo. While we were stuck in the ice there was an iron truck on board that four or five men kept constantly drawing from one side to the other, when the boat rocked to keep it level. The first mate was in charge of the boat in the absence of the captain. There was a man on board who had ten barrels of flour. The first mate ordered the cook to break into the flour and make bread for the passengers to eat. Which he did.
After leaving Buffalo we had a nice trip till we reached Detroit. There my mother had to have her goods loaded on to another boat bound for Chatham, where my father met us with a team of horses and wagon. From there he took us right to the farm that he had bought. My father worked his farm and Mr.Hughsons farm with his brother (who was still with him) for one year. There were very poor crops that season.
The following spring a rebellion broke out that stirred the country from end to the other. My Fathers brother went out as a volunteer. We had a neighbour by the name of "Carey" that was captain of the militia. One night he was out with the company of his men and stopped by the Longwood road, near where the village of Thamesville is now. A man kept the hotel there by the name of Mapes. There was a small band of rebels came to the hotel and called the landlord outside. They wanted to hire him to take them to Chatham. The landlord went back into the hotel and told Captain Carey. Captain Carey went outside alone and one of the rebels had a pistol and shot him. Captain Careys men ran outside to help but by that time the rebels had fled. In the dark, all the captains men could find where a couple of the rebels hats on the road. Captain Carey died the next morning. The men around that part of the county were called out the next day. My father took a load of men to Chatham. There was not an able bodied man left in any of the houses, but there was a man sent around to all the houses to see if the women and children had enough to eat, as provisions were very scarce about that time.
My father was gone for four days. When he came home, I heard him say sometime after, that he traveled around for two days looking for flour to buy and could not get any. Towards night the second day he found a man that had ten bushels of wheat to sell. He had to give the man $20 for the ten bushels. The next day he started for Halls Mills which is near where the village of Byron is today (about 50 miles). He arrived at Byron about dark and although it was winter, he slept in the mill and fed his horses in a shed. They ground the grain that night. The next morning he started for home.
When he got to Battle Hill (this side of Wardsville) the snow had thawed off the hill and it was very steep. He had to carry the grist up the hill one bag at a time, on his shoulder, as it was all his horses could do to haul the empty sleigh to the top of the hill. He got home sometime later that night.
While living in that area, we had a neighbor called John Fancher who was quite a huntsman. At that time the country was new and the cows ran in the woods in the spring, and everyone had a bell on at least one of their cows. These bells you could hear for a mile and a half on a calm evening. Each bell had a different sound, so each person knew his own bell so that made it easy to find his cows. Deer were very plentiful at that time and would run among the cows.
Mr. Fancher had an old horse he used to put a cowbell and an old harness on. He would ride into the woods, after the cows with his rifle. He would take a chain and whiffletree with him. The deer, being used to the sound of the bells allowed him to get quite close to them and he would shoot them from his horse. I remember seeing him with three deer dragging behind his horse. He dropped one off at our gate once, after coming home from a hunt. He lost a cow when we lived there. She either died or was killed by wolves. When he found her he saw that some wild animal had been eating at her.
He trapped for the wolves and caught a bear and two wolves, a male and a female. There was a bounty out for wolves at that time at $7.00 a head. He killed the bear and male wolf and took their skins. The female wolf he took home alive and put her in a hollow Button Log. Some of these logs were as much as seven feet in diameter. Mr. Fancher cut one of these logs about nine feet long and set it on its end, right over the wolf. He had a ladder on the outside and would let her feed down from the top. He kept her until she had seven young pups. Then he killed them all and got the bounty on the lot at $7.00 a head, which was $63.00.
After living there for nearly three years, my Mother did not like it in that area. She wanted my father to sell out and move up near London, as she had three brothers who had settled in the west gore of Westminster. In February of 1839 my father sold his farm there and moved to Westminster township, county of Middlesex. He rented a farm from James Nichols about 1 1/2 miles south of Lambeth on North Talbot road. It was a 200-acre farm but there was only 35 acres cleared on it. As we were moving from the west, when we got to Delaware village we had to go by way of Commissioners Road to Byron then up through the woods to Lambeth. The direct road from Delaware to Lambeth was not cut out at that time.
When we arrived in Westminster I had not been in school yet, though I was nine years of age. There was a little frame schoolhouse about half a mile south of Lambeth. A man by the name of Ayers went around among the people there and got signers to start a school. My father signed two; it was $8.00 a scholar. When they signed they had to pay whether they attended or not. The schoolmaster had to get a certain number of people signed before he would start to teach. It was in that little frame schoolhouse where I first learned my ABC's. I well remember there were desks fastened around three sides of the wall, with seats in front of them. The children sat with their back to the teacher. I went to school about nine months with Mr. Ayers. That was all the schooling I got. Except in the wintertime I went for three or four winters.
My father (after moving to Westminster) used to team horses from Port Stanley. There were no gravel roads then. Sometimes when the roads were muddy, he could only draw four barrels of salt per load, and he could not make it up the St Thomas hill. He had to come around by Fingal.
There was only one threshing machine around these parts at that time and that was owned by John N. Hunt. It was a silander and concave. The grain was put through and thrashed of the straw and put up in the barn or often out in the field, where it was threshed from stacks covered up with straw until it could be cleaned through a fanning mill.
After living on Mr. Nichols place for two years, my father bought a bush farm on the west gore of Westminster. He built a shanty there to stop in while he chopped wood and cleared the land. Mr. John Hunts farm was closer to his own farm so he rented a farm from him, while he cleared his bush on his own farm.
There were no buggies at that time. Mr. Isaac Campbell owned the first buggy in Westminster. Mr. Campbell was also the first councilor of Westminster. There was only one councilor in a township and Mr. Campbell was elected in a meeting by a show of hands. About the year 1842, the council decided to plank the road from London to Port Stanley. Mr. Thomas Living, who lived about half a mile south of Lambeth on North Talbot road, told me that he wanted $100.00 and could not get it to borrow. He had to sell 1000 bushels of oats to get the money. Cotton was about $.25 a yard and common prints about the same.
After living on Mr. Hunts farm for three years and getting some of our own land cleared, we finally moved on to our own farm. At that time the cattle ran out among the straw stacks all winter. There were very few of them that were stabled. People made all of their own clothing. It was spun and woven at home or by their neighbors. They made their own sugar as well. The hogs ran in the woods in the fall and got fat on beech and oak nuts. You could not get cash for anything you had to sell, it was all trade.
The wolves were plentiful then. One night while working in the sugar bush, they came up pretty near but would not come up close to the fire. They were afraid of fire. There was a bush lot to the south of where we lived with 12 or 14 acres on it, that had been girdled. That is, the bark of the trees had been cut around with an axe, so that the trees would die and the land would be easier to clear. There were a good deal of them that had died and had fallen to the ground and the ground had grown with under brush. My two brothers and I went out one Christmas to this place hunting rabbits, as it was a good place for them to hide and they were plentiful.
After we had been out for a while we came across tracks that we did not know. After following it for some distance, we came to one of these dead trees that the top had broken off about 50 feet from the ground. We saw something on the top of the tree but could not tell what it was. I went over to a neighbours(by the name of Neville) They had a dog which was part wolfhound and part greyhound. They came over and chopped the tree down. As the tree started to fall the animal jumped and three dogs chased after it. There was 8 inches of snow so we could follow the track quite easily. After following for half a mile, we met two dogs coming back. They had given up the chase. We followed on and soon we heard a hound at something. We came up to him and realized that the animal that the dog had, had been killed. It was a large white cat. Mr. Neville said that he never would have believed that a dog could have killed it if he had not seen it for himself."
James Adams Born November 11, 1799, Died October 6, 1885