HISTORY OF BOWMANVILLE

Part 4

By Mr. J. B. Fairbairn, Post Master

I am under the impression that the Smart family and Mr. Charles Bowman came from the same part of Scotland, the former hailed from Dundee. Mr. George Smart came to Bowmanville for the purpose of succeeding my father but he was only in charge a short time. I have not the slightest idea what kind of man he was but his life had a tragic and strange ending. What wonderful things occur and how hard to account for! It does not require a great stretch of the imagination to picture the heartrending scene of separation when he left his wife and two helpless children without a fathers protection and care, his own soul filled with high hopes and the laudable ambition that when he reached the supposed Eldorado, success would crown his efforts and they should again be reunited in family life. But, alas, it was not to be.

Mr. George gave a dinner party one evening and among those present on the occasion were Messrs, Cubitt, who were living at the mill now owned by Mr. George A. Stephens. I think the late Colonel Frederick Cubitt was present. My father was also among the guests. After spending a convivial night (the Cubitts came out on horse back) and when starting for home, they had to go through the woods. Mr. Smart insisted on accompanying them part of the way. They separated somewhere about 1 1/2 miles north of the town. Mr. Smart did not make his appearance the following morning, and parties who went out to search found his lifeless body not far from the place where they had said good night. The horse was found in the immediate vicinity. It was never definitely known how the accident ocurred but the supposition was, his head had come in contact with a tree in the darkness. No wonder when the intelligence reached the stricken wife she died of a broken heart. All honor to the brothers who so tenderly cared for the orphans. Mr. John Smart, at Port Darlington , adopted one and David Smart at Port Hope, took the other. They never new the loss of their parents.

The unseen power that guides and controls the lives of men, again draw up the curtain and another actor appears on he stage. Mr. John Lester, who came from Cavan township was the next manager. He was a stout built, strong man and a pusher. For five years he ran the business. Why he dissolved connection with the concern, I cannot say. He opened out for himself immediately west of Mrs. Vanstone's present beautiful residence. He had quite an extensive trade and should under the circumstances have acquired in independence. The views of the community on the sin of smuggling were very lax, and he was only one among a large number of others who was guilty of this fraud against the government. He did not cover his tracks sufficiently. His nemesis overtook him in the person of Collector of Customs of Port Hope, who landed suddenly on the place where the contraband stuff was stored and the game was up. He left the country for good. Mr. Thomas Cann, father of Mr. Harry Cann, Collector of Taxes in this town, was for some time a clerk in the establishment and Peter Hambly, who lived so long at the lake, was also behind the counter - both at the time young, active, clever men.

Shortly after my father was at the helm a young lad, John Simpson, about twelve years of age, was sent by the proprietor to take the place of the clerk and acquire a knowledge of the business. Who would have thought at the time that the boy, starting out in such humble circumstances would eventually, not only control the large business which it became, but also exercise such a dominating power in the whole community. He climbed the ladder round by round till he reached the top. He grew up with the business and so thoroughly had he mastered every detail connected with it, that after Mr. Lester resigned and although only eighteen years of age, he was given full control. I do not feel quite certain as to dates but fancy about this time the saw mill was discarded and a new grist mill erected on the old site. A distillery was also built across the road to the south. One point of time can be approximately fixed, that is the erection of the brick store first east of Vanstone's Mill which is still standing. It was in 1836. It looks now a modest structure, but it was then indeed, quite a grand affair and so solidly built that it will likely stand for another century.

About this time there was a phenomenal influx of population. Hundreds of immigrants came pouring into the country, the Britins Isles contributing a large quota. Thousands of acres of land were cleared and brought under cultivation, the rich fertile soil producing enormous crops of all kinds of grain. This gave a great impetus to trade. The village grew very fast; new house were erected and things generally indicated brighter prospects for the future. Under the able management of its young chief the Bowman business began to assume large proportions, outstripping all competitors. It must not be forgotten that to succeed in business at that early period of the country's history required a large capital. It was impossible to carry on any kind of enterprise on a cash basis hence long credits were the rule, not the exception.

Showing the condition of things as late as 1839 I have a relic in the shape of a shin plaster. Bowman & Co. was at the time a very wealthy firm and had unlimited credit, so much so that their I.O.U. was as readily taken as gold. Paper currency as a medium of exchange was very scarce. To meet the want they issued a bill of their own. The following is an exact copy of one for 25 cents, which was never redeemed. How much interest do they owe me, I wonder? Many a Darlington farmer owed his first start to this fact. If he was making an honest effort to succeed he received kindly assistance until he found himself on his feet.

No. ........... 524. CHARLES BOWMAN & CO. C. B. On demand for value received we promise to pay the bearer seven pence, Half penny curr- ency in current Bank Bills in sums not less than five shil- lings, either at the store of Dav- id Smart Esq., Port Hope or at our store Ent'd Bowmanville Feb 20, 1839 T. C. SUTTON C. BOWMAN

Mr. John Simpson at this time held a unique position, with power to make or mar the fortunes of many a settler. He had an iron will, and the whole tendency of his position was to increase this marked natural characteristic. He could not brook opposition. His whole nature was strenuous. He never turned his back on a friend nor his face from a foe. While strictly just and upright in all his dealings he was generous to a fault, and many an old timer knew by experience that he did not carry his sympathy merely on his sleeve. For years his influence was felt in every walk of life. He was an active politician. Although bred a Presbyterian he became identified with, and was one of the founders of the Disciples' church, retaining his connection with that body until his death. One marked trail, was his loyal attachment to his friends. He would go any length to do them a service personally. I received a great deal of kindness at his hands, which I can never forget. Proving his high standing not only locally but in a wider field, at Confederation he was elected a member of the Legislative Council and later appointed to the high and honored position of Senator At Ottawa for many years he rendered valuable service to the country at large. He became associated with Mr. Chas Bowman as a partner in the business which was carried on under the name of Bowman & Co.. He was for a long time agent of the Bank of Montreal and afterwards organized the Ontario Bank of which he was President. After retiring from active service at the Bank, he remained a director to the end. In May 1844, he married Ann, eldest daughter of the late David Burk, already referred to. Their married life was short, as she died a year or so after she became a bride. Some time afterwards he married a younger sister, Sarah. There were born to them five sons and three daughters, and of this large family there remains only one representative in this the town of their nativity.

It would not be in good taste in paper of this kind to refer to those still living, yet I cannot refrain from stating this of our prominent townsman, Mr. D. B. Simpson, K. C.. He inherited the wide mental gifts of his father and through tense application has become one of the ablest barristers in the district. Now in the prime of life, it is to be hoped that he may have many years of active usefulness before him.


Next - Bowmanville and Darlington History Part 5

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