BAKER’S SCHOOL, S.S. No. 19, DARLINGTON

Rev. D. Rogers, St. Thomas, Ont. 1921

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This frame building, in the early time, stood upon the corner of Mr. William Baker’s farm, afterward owned by Mr. Charles Smith. Among the earlier teachers I heard the names mentioned - Miss Mary Campbell and Wm. Thompson. The first of whom I have personal knowledge was Mr. Daniel Lick, my first teacher. He was a strong well-built man, of perhaps 30 years of age, and held the fort during 1860-1861. He resided on a small farm, about one-half mile north of Bradley’s Schoolhouse, and walked to and fro each day. He was followed in 1862 by Mr. Thomas Elison, a promising young man, who, the following year died at his home near or in Solina. Levi Potter, who succeeded him, loved one of his pupils so ardently that he decided to make her his life partner, Miss Eliza Gifford. Mrs. Potter, though much afflicted, is still living and resides with her daughter, Mrs. O. A. Sharpe of London, Ontario.

For the sake of convenience, in 1863, we were transferred to S. S. No 11. where six of my brothers and sisters became attendants. One day we were greatly alarmed at Baker’s as the word came in that there was a mad dog near the school. Two of the older boys armed themselves with guns and pursued him some distance, but with what result I cannot say, only I remember that ever after I was afraid to be out alone, and had a terror of mad or vicious dogs - Beware of dogs.

I recall the names of some of the older scholars there from 1860-63; Jeremiah W. Annis, Joseph and Bram Abrahams, Ezra Gifford, John, Will, Samuel and James Gilbert, Samuel Souch, Joseph Cole and Alex McLaughlin.

In 1870 the writer returned to Baker’s School and attended there, for the winter sessions only, for three years. In the meantime the red brick schoolhouse, which now stands there, had been erected on the corner of Mr. James Pye’s farm. The teachers during these seasons were John H. Brown, (son of our neighbour, Wm. Brown), Wm. Henry, Belfast, Ireland, and Mr. J. A. Campbell of the vicinity of Brooklin, Ont. Each of these was very exemplary and rendered good service.

Some of the companions at school at this time were Edward Annis, Edwin N. Varnum, Solomon, Abner, Diana, Sarah, Henrietta, James and Absalom Abrahams, Nancy and Fanny Gifford, Cora Argue, Jabez and Laura Souch, Mary, John and Mattie Pye, John and Elizabeth Smith, Ada and Henrietta Williams, Frank Wilbur, Henry and Joseph Martin, and Geo. Maynard. At that time we had occasional visits from yourself, Mr. Editor, as you were engaged in the neighbouring school section.

About 1864 a young man, who was a German, Anslem Schuster by name, came to the section, and if I mistake not, conducted a writing school in the evenings. He afterwards entered the ministry and continued therein for some years.

In 1869 and 1870, the above mentioned Jeremiah W. Annis was in attendance at Victoria College, Cobourg, preparatory to entering the ministry. The writer heard the first sermon he preached in the neighbourhood - at Tyrone, in June 1871. He went at once to his first circuit, Stouffville. The next year he resided at home, for the most part, and supplied the Sunday work on the Whitby Circuit. During that winter he delivered a well-prepared address in Baker’s School, on the subject of Education. Mr. Wm. Cryderman complimented him highly, and referred to him as the eloquent man fresh from the halls of Victoria College.

Although this schoolmate’s career was comparatively short it was not without distinction. He was pastor of the First Church, in his city, (where I now attend) thirty years ago, and some of the older members still speak of his great sermons, and the throngs which waited on his ministry. It seemed inscrutable that his labours should be terminated in May 1895, at the early age of 45 years.

Mr. John Garfatt gave a social one evening in the schoolhouse, in behalf of parsonage furnishing. The building was crowded, and Rev. Alfred McMann had been secured to give an address on Protestantism. It will be remembered as an eloquent deliverance. Rev. J. G. Manly was also present and gave a short, scholarly, address, which was characterized by Rev. T. H. Patchell after this fashion. Mr. Manly gave us an admirable speech. He is a person of the keenest analysis and the nicest discrimination - he could split a hair and hand you the thick end of it.

Well, all these incidents and days are past and gone, but it is pleasant to recall them. I am not unmindful that others have recollections equally interesting to them. I would willingly persuade myself that many of your readers, and especially whose names have been mentioned in these reminiscences, would find much interest in them. To older persons they will help recall scenes and characters familiar to their youth and to the rising generation may present some idea of things said and done in the long ago.

I must not trespass further upon your space than to say that as I have no record - in pen or pencil - of any of the incidents and events recorded in these letters, they may appear somewhat disjointed, but if the readers will experience a tithe of the pleasure in pursuing that I have had in recalling and writing them, I shall deem myself well repaid.

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NORTH DARLINGTON

Boys of 70 Years Ago in S.S. No. 17

By Rev. Dr. J. S. Williamson, Toronto 1920

_________________________________

The fathers of these boys were men of wonderful pluck and courage and many of them settled nearly 100 years ago on these farms in S.S. No. 17, Darlington, with only an axe, a yoke of oxen and perhaps one cow. The mighty forest, untouched, seemed to bid defiance to any human who would attempt to interfere with its solitary grandeur, but these men accepted the challenge and began the battle against the huge tall giants of the forest primeval. The comfortable homes and productive acres of today tell of their wonderful victory in the forestic conflict. What of the sons of these noblemen? Mostly all of them have gone to the Great Beyond, with few, if any, exceptions. Today I do not recollect a single exception. These boys lived honourable lives.

We will begin with the east end of the section. Jesse Williams, a very acceptable local preacher in the Bible Christian Church, his youngest son Charles is living in Bowmanville and the other Jesse W. is living in Oshawa. Both were successful tillers of the soil and retired with creditable records, worthy sons of a worthy sire. Another early settler was Mr. Gilpin, whose son became a Methodist minister of the London conference and who died in 1905. William Ranton, whose son John became a successful merchant in Exeter, Ont., and W.G. another son, an honoured official member of Wellington Street Methodist Church, Brantford, and a useful man in the community, great Sabbath School worker, etc. Mrs. Chester Power, Maple Grove, is a sister of these two brothers. Christopher Heppinstall was another pioneer - a local preacher of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. His son Peter became a local preacher and William a successful Jeweller in Brooklin and later in St. Thomas. Thomas Ormiston was a sturdy old Scotchman. His son was William, afterwards the famous Dr. Ormiston, who became the first superintendent of Education for Ontario, and was in my estimation the most brilliant Canadian grown Minister of the Presbyterian Church. For years he occupied the pulpit of the Central Church, Hamilton and afterwards was minister of the Dutch Reform Church in New York City. Another brilliant son was David Ormiston, who became a successful barrister in the Town of Whitby.

William Smith’s son, James, the eldest, was the most brilliant student in the old School, that stood on the corner of my father’s farm and only a stone’s throw from his own home. A younger son was John W., who became a successful farmer and now lives retired in Oshawa. Willard Chapman - his son, Austin was a schoolteacher for years and afterwards conducted a business office in Lake Mills, Iowa. Lorenzo, another son, was a physician in New York State.

Whitewell Hall, whose sons all became successful tillers of the soil. John lived on my father’s farm since we left it and who sold it a few months ago and now resides in Oshawa, and whose mother died a few years ago, nearly 94 years of age in Brooklin. Ralph Hill, whose only son, Thomas A., became a successful contractor, is still living in Toronto, an honoured member of society.

William Knapp whose youngest son Daniel, became a schoolteacher, the others honourable farmers whose descendants are mostly out in the West. John James, who was foreman in John Campbell’s great steam saw mill, which made the gigantic pine forest into useful material for home building, etc., whose eldest son, Editor M. A. James, has been for over 40 years the proprietor and publisher of The James Publications in Bowmanville, whose papers are regarded throughout Ontario as among the very best, if not the very best of the Country Papers, noted for their live editorials and the noble stand always taken on every moral and religious question, also an honoured official in the Methodist Church. Joseph Thomas the eldest son Lucius became a minister of the Christian Church, John H., a doctor, Stephen, a successful general merchant for many years in Brooklin; Hiram and Eber farmers.

Zenias Williamson whose third son Silah now 93 years of age is living in Minnesota and is a successful farmer. The youngest son J. S., a writer of these items has been a minister of the Methodist Church for 54 years and now superannuated in Toronto for the past year. My mother’s sons by her first husband a Mr. Palmer, one was Jeremiah a successful schoolteacher for over 30 years and then Bailiff for Whitby Township till death. Howard another son became a Methodist minister and passed over the river a year ago.

There were other sons in most of these families of whom I know but little as they came upon the stage of action after I left the farm, 63 years ago. Those I have named I knew well in my boyhood days and I am exceedingly proud of their record. I wonder if there is another section in Darlington that can show as good a record of the boys of 70 years ago. If so I will be delighted to read that record. Not one of the old settlers is alive to day so far as I know unless it is of Wm. Potter’s grandchildren, children of his daughter Marion, Mrs. Fred Griffin and Daniel Knapp’s grandchildren.

If spared till Spring I hope to visit the old farm once more the place of my birth and home of my boyhood and if possible catch some speckled beauties out of the old stream again. But I know I shall feel lonely, so lonely with no familiar face or voice to greet me with word or welcome. Earth has its changes but heaven will be a permanent home.

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