Son of Thomas Cairns and Mary Willison.
1. JAMES CAIRNS Sr: Son of Thomas Cairns and Mary Willison.
Born 19 Mar 1788, Wiltonbourne, Wilton Parish, Berwickshire, Scotland, died 21 Aug 1867,
Plympton Twp., Lambton Co., Ont. On the 13 Oct 1810 in Swinton-Simprin Berwickshire,
Scotland, he married Elizabeth Patterson, born Sep 1785, Antonhill, Eccles Parish,
Berwickshire, Scotland, baptized 19 Nov 1785, Eccles Parish, died 14 Apr 1873, Invercairn,
Plympton Twp., Lambton Co., Ont. (d/o George Paterson and Ann Dodds).
Both buried Knox Church Cemetery, Camlachie, Ont. (#21).
They had 10 children. Thomas, George, James, Ann, Alexander, Peter, Catherine, Katharine,
John and Eliza.
Emigrated to Plympton Township, Lambton County, Ontario in 1842. It is believed that the 4
youngest children were with them when they emigrated.
It is known that son George was single and emigrated before the rest of the family.
Ann married David Lunam/Lunham and came in 1843 with 3 children.
Settled on 50 acres on Lot 14, Concession 9, Plympton Township.
SARNIA OBSERVER 30 AUGUST 1867
Died at the residence of his son-in-law William Symington, Esq., Plympton, on the 21st inst., James Cairns, a native of Berwickshire, Scotland, aged 80 years and 8 months.
SARNIA OBSERVER APRIL 1873
Died at the residence of her son-in-law William Symington, Esq., Plympton on the 14th of April, Mrs. Elizabeth Cairns, relict of the late Mr. James Cairns Sr., formerly of Berwickshire, Scotland aged 86 years, 8 months. She leaves a large number of relatives including 49 great grandchildren to respect her memory.
1906 LAMBTON COUNTY ONTARIO
COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD
James Cairns, was a farm laborer in Roxburghshire Scotland and there married Miss Elizabeth Paterson, of the same region.
There were seven children in their family. (1) George was the first of the family to come to Canada. He went at first to California during the gold excitement, but later made his home in Lambton County, in Plympton township. His last years were spent in Michigan. (2) Thomas was a landowner in Forest and there died. (3) Ann married David Lunam, of Plympton, and there died. (4) Catherine married William Symington, of Plympton, and there died 28 June 1905. (5) Peter became the father of James K. (6) John is deceased. (7) Eliza married Richard Richardson, one of the California "forty-niners," and settled in Minnesota.
James Cairns and his wife came to Canada in the latter part of the forties, settled in Lot 14, Concession 9, Plympton township, on a fifty-acre tract of land, and began their pioneer life in a log cabin. The rest of their lives was spent there engaged in farming, and they died within a short time of each other, their remains being laid in the Knox Church cemetery at Camlachie. They were devout members of the Presbyterian Church, which they helped to organize in Camlachie. Mr. Cairns reached the age of eighty years, and was all his life a strong Liberal.
( Not listed in this Record are children James Jr and Alexander ) (FLB)
ARTICLE WRITTEN BY NANCY McINTYRE
In the lowlands of Scotland along the border country, still running today, are the rivers Teviot and Tweed. The area is hilly and sparsely settled, except by sheep and a few cattle, and has a serene quiet beauty, the cotters being cleared from the land over 100 years ago and dispersed to many other countries, Australia, New Zealand, United States and Canada.
On the 13th October 1810, James Cairns and Elizabeth Paterson were married in Swinton-Simprin Parish, Berwick County, Scotland. Their family consisted of Thomas, George, James, Ann, Alexander, Peter, John, Eliza and Catherine all born in Swinton-Simprin or Eccles, Berwick County, Scotland. In the early 1800's James was a Hind (a domestic servant) and living in Loanknow, Eccles Parish, Berwick County, and the births of George, 1812; James, 1814; Ann, 1816; and Peter, 1818 are listed in the census.
Thomas and George Cairns were the first to arrive in Canada. George went at first to California during the gold excitement, later he settled in what was then called Upper Canada, Plympton Township, Lambton County, Ontario. George came in the 1830's as he witnessed land transactions during that time. Thomas came in about 1844 and also settled in Plympton Township. The rest of the family was soon to follow about 1847 except John who came in 1849.
The following is a history of early Pioneer days in Lambton County as related by Williams Cairns, son of James and Betsy (Anderson) Cairns:
At that time Western Ontario was almost a winderness of forest. The Township of Plympton in the County of Lambton as the crow flies was about twenty miles from the City of Sarnia (or rather, a village, at that time). Their family settled within a few miles of each other and hewed out homes for themselves out of solid bush of heavy timber. Their only roads in those days were blazed trails through the bush and distances are not shortened by trails even in the prairie county.
Sarnia, being their only market, it was necessary many times to make the journey on foot. I have heard my grandmother and her daughter Ann say they have carried their butter and eggs to market over the same trail, and more than once, and they were not the only ones.
Oxen and sleigh were their chief mode of conveyance for some years until they could grow feed for horses. And as oxen were much better for clearing the land, few indeed were the happy owners of horse teams and what was known then as a lumber wagon. Although the wagon has changed little in appearance, it is seldom known now as a lumber wagon.
It was a slow tedious work clearing land in those times and as the timber (before the event of the Grand Trunk running from Toronto to Point Edwards and the Great Western running from London to Sarnia) was of no value, the choicest of oak, elm, basswood, and other more valuable varieties were logged together in great piles and burned. Great and strenuous times were often witnessed at logging bees, when sides would be chosen for every team and who could be across the field first. Even the oxen were onto their jobs and apparently as keen as the men. There was also a great knack in being able to handle a team of horses to good advantage.
After the railroad was in working order, oak became in great demand, made into staves and into square timber. And some valuable as well as large square timber was shipped to the older countries. Staves were about seven feet long and were made out of good oak timber, hewed from logs two and a half to four or five inches in width. I am not just certain what these staves were manufactured into. Cordwood of Maple and Beech was very plentiful and afforded employment for those near the railway lines. Although prices were not high, it helped to clear the land.
Softer timbers were not in demand and millions of feet of Elm and other soft varieties were logged together and burned and ashes carefully gathered to make potash. After, when it began to get scarce, it was manufactured into lumber and some years ago it was in great demand. Buyers were offering ten to fifteen dollars per thousand and on the stump.
Thomas, James and John Cairns settled in North Plympton Township about two to four miles from a village known then as Hillsborough. This place was named after the first settlers named Hills. Hills had a flour mill, and it was small but served a great and useful purpose to the settlers of North Plympton and the east half of Bosanquet Township.
James Cairns Sr., Alexander, Peter and Ann, who was married to David Lunam, Katey who was married to William Symington, and Eliza who married Richard Richardson, all settled a few miles east of what was then Erroll. A government road having been opened out from London to Sarnia, branched off at Warwick Village and angled in a northwest direction to Lake Huron. Erroll Village was on the lakeshore. Those villages served as port office until the railroad came through, then Erroll moved to Camlachie and Hillsborough later to Forest.
Later Peter Cairns moved to Lakeshore and James Jr., and my father to Arberarder.
The Township of Plympton was settled chielfy by Scotch, English and Irish. They were all a sturdy, hard working, honest lot of men who made good although slow progross for many years. It took some time to clear enough land for gardens and small wheat fields to grow fodder to winter the stock. Every farmer kept from three to ten cows. And a good number of hens and without these it would have been a scant living for many. Some seasons when fodder was scarce cattle were driven to the bush to live on boughs, that is Elm and Basswood limbs and from brush. And as it was, the early settlers experienced a great deal of hardships and privations. Schools were scarce and hard to reach on account of road conditions. Still it is wonderful to look back and think how children received an education in those primitive times.
The same can be said about the Churches. But the sturdy Scot never forgot the Church and Churches were erected whenever a settlement started. Knox Church at Camlachie was amongst the first and Bethel Methodist near the Lakeshore and various others were erected and well attended in those days.
The Cairns families were all Presbyterians and all supporters of the same cause in religion and politics being reformers. The following generations, have mostly broken away from their first love and joined the United Church. A few no doubt still retain a membership in the continuing body. In politisc, I think they are nearly a unit and still adhere to the Liberal Party with a very few exceptions.
Hillsborough, Erroll, Shepherds, and Hamiltons Corners of which the writer is the more familiar with, underwent a transformation with the advent of the railway.
As I said before, Camlachie killed Erroll and Forest robbed Hillsborough of her business interests. A Post Office opened at Hamiltons Corners and was afterwards known as Arberarder while Uttoxeter Post Office was opened at Shepherds corner and was afterwards known as Uttoxeter.
Between 1850 and 1875 a wonderful transformation was made. Many of the farmers had good clearances and a fair acreage under crop and frame houses and better barns were looming up here and there. Many of the older generations were retiring and leaving their farms to their sons. Some of them were in the real evening of their life, and with others the sun had gone down.
James Cairns 1786-1867 and wife Elizabeth Paterson 1786-1873 farmed on Concession 9, Lot 14 in Plympton Township.
James had a nephew who was a Baptist Minister in the States and used to visit his relatives in Canada. Nothing is known of him at this time.
I remember well of the old couple, and used to love to go to their place which was only three miles from my fathers home. My grandmother, a strong stout old lady, always had a cake for us and my grandfather was a very quiet good old man who was always highly spoken of as a good neighbor and devoted follower of his master. Grandmother was a strong robust woman who must have turned the scale at about two hundre. She, with her oldest daughter, Anne, frequently walked into Sarnia carrying their eggs and butter. Sarnia in those days, was a long way.