LIFE AND HISTORY OF CAPTAIN M. S. CASSAN
Westfield Cottage, Seymour East
Bears, wolves and deer were in numbers in the forest, as was also partridge, wild pigeons, ducks, etc., in vast abundance; so plenty were the partridge, that any evening, after sun down, I could walk up to an evergreen pine tree and shoot a bird or two. It was in those shade trees the partridge passed the night; and many a feast my family had of these and duck; also any amount of fish was to be had in the river; and there was no better place for catching them, than directly opposite our shore; and often some of the settlers would come down to our place and enjoy the sport, and take home a mess of fine black bass, pike or pickerel.
I may here state, that beore I bought this gore farm, the Indians made it their hunting ground, and made sugar in a fine bush beside where I built my dwelling house, but as soon as I moved, they went and made sugar upon lot 12, adjoining my farm; and before they left, they made me a present of all their birch bark sap buckets. They always camped at our place, and we became great friends with them. Their Chief, old Penachea, I used to lend my double-barrel gun, and supply him and others of his tribe, with powder and shot, and they would often in return, bring me a side of venison. I recollect selling a nice silver hunting watch to an Indian, named Peter Croy, for five bucks. He was a splendid hunter, and shot the five bucks within a week; so delighted he was to obtain the watch. Every spring and fall the Indians came from Alnwick, and erected their wigwam beside the river, at our place, and we were glad to give them welcome. I used frequently to pay them a visit, and watch them making their numerous baskets and brooms. The Indians were very intelligent, and would often amuse Mrs. C. and myself by reciting events that took place in the forest in by-gone years, and long before the "pale faces" showed themselves in those parts. They would tell us of hard fought battles between their tribe and tribes of distant localities; and I can remember when I first put a plough to the soil upon this same river farm I ploughed up human bones, and various articles made by Indians, tomahawks made of stone, ground sharp, stone gauges for tapping maple trees, some splendid carved pottery, and several arrow points made of the best of flint, all of which I gave to a gentleman going home to England.
At length the winter came, and with it, the alarming news that the lion I have before mentioned seeing ensconsed in the British Coffee House in Toronto, in August 1834, had broken loose, and had caused the greatest alarm and excitement in Toronto ann all over the country, and is was only when the Duke of Wellington put the lion of old England upon his track, that the ________________________________to the States, and upon Canada turned his back. I can well remember the times the rebellion first broke out. Major Campbell received instructions from Government House, Toronto, to raise a regiment, and hold the same in readiness to march at a moment's notice, for Toronto. The Major at once took active measures to fulfill the order he had received from the then Governor, Sir Francis Bond Head. Sir John Colborne was actively engaged at this time in Lower Canada. The Major at once went round to select the proper number of officers, then residing in Seymour, to complete four companies here, whilst Adam H. Meyers acted in like manner in the township of Percy. The Major called upon and asked me to become the Adjutant of the regiment, which was to be named the 5th Northumberland Militia. I told the Major I should be happy to do so at once. The Major invited me to go up and spend some days with him, and to bring up my Military drill books, and it was not long before we had the regiment formed. The Major became Col. and Adam Meyers was the Major. I had to attend twice a week in Percy, to drill the four companies there, and also in Seymour, and marching twice a week to Percy during the winter, in deep snow, and drilling in the evening upon the ice upon the mill pond, and at the hotel at night, and next day march back to my family, eleven miles was not a very pleasant undertaking, but nevertheless, duty had to be performed. I can remember upon one occasion upon my return march, when I had to break my way through the deep snow from Percy, when, during the night there was a heavy fall of snow, and when I arrived upon the ice below Percy Landing, and nearly opposite the Masson's farm, then occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Galvin, I became so tired and fatigued, that I put my cloak round me and lay down upon the ice, clad with the downy snow, and there at once fell fast asleep. How long it was I cannot say, but I awoke, and, as it was, I was nearly covered up with the dense fall of snow. I got up and pushed on as best I could up to the Galvin's and Mrs. Galvin brought me in and kindly made of cup of tea, which soon revived me and after I took a better rest, managed to reach my home before dark. Upon receiving further news of the unhappy state of the country, and the active measures that the Government were taking to supprise the rebellion, I felt it my duty as a Military Settler, to come forward and tender my Military services to Sir Francis Bond Head, and accordingly addressed a letter to His Excellency, making him an offer of my military services in any way they might be deemed useful, in the present emergency of my adopted country. I am proud to state here, that as the Adjutant at the Seymour and Percy regiment of the Militia, the Irish, as well as the Scotch and English, cheerfully came forward and put themselves under drill, to prepare themselves to defend their adopted country, and walked a distance from the homes at much inconvenience, to attend parade drills, as appointed by the Col. and Adam Henry Meyers, both in Seymour and Percy, where Capts. Humpreys and Platt, and other officers proved highly their loyalty to the crown and the country, by their exertions in making every effort to assist the Government to extinguish the rebellion. Fortunately at this time, the Duke of Wellington was the Commander-in-Chief of the English Army army, and his prompt action in sending out sufficient forces, for, as he himself said, "we must not send a small army to Canada, but sufficient force that will crush the rebellion at once:" and he did send ample troopsthat soon put an extinguisher upon the flam of rebellion, that was then ringing both over Upper and Lower Canada; and one of the regts.. the Duke sent out, was my old regt. the 23rd Highlanders. And there were the braves that soon demolished the wind mill at Prescott and made prisoner of the Rebel leader, the Pole, and all the rebels that were within the walls. The fate of this unfortunate Polander, who had been mialed, and induced to accept the command of the rebel forces, was led, I might say, blindfolded by the cowardly lion MacKensie, who shunned the battle himself, and by false representations as regards the conditions and government of Canada at that period to the Pole undertood the command of the rebels, in the belief that he was doing a good deed for Canada; and in need of employment at the moment, he jumped at the bait held out to him by lion MacKenzie and his rebellious assistants, and thus became the dupe and sufferer, and soon found himself caught in the trap that the said lion would have been a far more fitting victim than the brave Pole, who was hung for the position he, in a moment of want of proper knowledge and information accepted. I think had a less hauty time been given for the trial of this brave foreigner, the Pole, when the passions of the army and the people of the country had time to cool, a more merciful punishment would have been awarded to him. It was most fortunate that the prompt and timely aid of the troops from England soon fulfilled the expectations of the noble Duke of Wellington and the English government, and an end was put to the rebellion, but the cost was very heavy in England it was four million of pounds; the cost to Canada I cannot say, but it swept away all the funds set apart to commence the Grand Canal, that Sir John Colborne pointed out to me on the map in his parlor, in 1834, namely, from the month of the River Trent, of Seymour, to Lake Huron. So that the said rebellion caused a most serious lose to the early settlers of the Township and vicinity, to say nothing of the heavy cost, anxiety and trouble that the whole of Canada suffered by this wicked attempt to overthrow the government.
As the spring and seed time came, I was glad when Colonel dispensed with my further duties, that I could hang up my sword and take up my axs and the plough, which was far more profitable and beneficial exercise to myself and family, as the reg. received no pay, unless called out to the front. I put myself to much expense to rig myself out in Military uniform and walked 44 miles to drill the officers and non-commissioned officers during the whole of that winter, with out cost to the Government. When leaving Percy to commence my spring sowing, the officers there let me have some seed grain for my land, as some compensation for my trouble. Peace having been established in the country again, the farmers commenced their labors upon their lands, with their usual activity and attention. Nothing of any importance worth relating took place in the township for some time after this.
We found our location upon the river very inconvenient, and during spring and fall, very unhealthy, from the low, swampy ground all round and at times ingress and egress was no easy matter. The river being closed by ice, we could not use our boat, and sometimes in spring and fall, the swamp in rear would be so flooded over, we had t o walk over log or get a canoe to cross.
I have a perfect recollection of my neighbor, Arthur Raines, having a large tab for a boat at the crossing, when compint to pay us a visit; and if my readers could have seen him piloting a squaw over in his tub, they would have had as merry a laugh as I enjoyed. The whirly-gig motion of the tub with its two passengers hugging in such close quarters, was really amusing and it took the pilot some time to place his lady passenger on shore. I don't think Mr. Raynes ever took a squaw in his tub or his arms after this excursion. In those days he was very slender, and had ample room to take one squaw in his tub. I fancy if he attempted to perform the same feat now, he'd have to go and leave his measure at the coopers, for a new tub.
My writing about squaws, calls to mind how my eldest daughter; now mrs. Newington and a squaw killed a deer while sailing in the river. The Indians had gone back into the woods with their hounds to drive the deer in the river as was their custom. A comrade to watch and pursue any deer that might come near him, was posted in the river, but he was too far off the course and the deer jumped into the river, near where the squaw and my daughter were sailing. They pushed off in pursuit of the animal, and killed it with their paddles.
In those days, deer was very numerous, and the Indians, in spring and summer, hunted them with their hounds into the river, where it was no trouble to kill them. I have seen hunters drive a deer right before the bow of their canoe, all the way from near Percy Boom to the Fetterly Landing and Mr. Fetterly was one of them. Most every fall, hunters from Rawdon and Sidney with their dogs, came up and camp by the riverside and kill vast numbers of fine deer and take waggen-loads to Halleville and elsewhere to sell. I have known John Waver, of Rawdon, to spend weeks in Seymour, funting deer; and I have seen, the trees all round him camp hung with dead deer, ready to be loaded into his waggon.
This wholesale slaughter of deer, soon thinned them out of the settlement; and sportsmen find that the shooting seasons of the present day are nothing in comparision with what they were even twenty years ago.
After the completion of my log home. I moved from Conell's place, as year after year the place became more unhealthy and to escape the fever and ague, and my children from being devoured by the mosquitos. Mrs. C. used to put the infant children in an empty flour barrel, and cover it with a piece of gauze or netting to save them from the bites of these increasing insects. And as soon as the dam Chisholm's Rapids was erected our situation became still more unhealthy. My farm was made an island of. I believe few settlers suffered -- more hardships than did my family and I, for many years for besides the misery of a forest life, we had to contend with the vile treatment we received from two of our neighbors. One turned his vindictive spite against me because I declined to sell him a piec of land upon the river; and the other for the reason that we did not call upon them when they arrived in the settlement. One was a constable and the other a squire. The constable's name is Payneful to many of my readers as well as myself. He is not worth further notice. I shall give the most complimentary and appropriate name I can think of to the squire and that is Squire Telescope. I shall note only two of their acts towards me. The first was this. A storm had blown down a large tree near the residence of Mr. Hay. This said constable was path-master, at least he said he was, and warned me to go down all the way and remove the trees off the road. I refused to comply with so an unreasonable an order, there being several farmers farmers near to the spot. In a day or two after, I got a summons served me, at the hands of Justice Telescope, and was fined and costs put on me. In a few days after this, some scoundrel came to my dwelling with an assistant, went in and seized a barrel of oatmeal and seeing my chains which I used for drawing firewood, he grabbed them up to carry off, too. But I seized the chain, and we had a tussle, and I got the chain round his neck, when we both fell to the ground. I only wish I did not squeezed his neck a little tighter, but I succeeded in keeping the chain.
The next act of these two neighbors of mine, was fully as unjust as the one I have just mentioned, and was as follows. One evening a poor sick man suffering with fever and ague, came down the river in a boat from Percy Landing to our place. He intended to go further that evening but found himself too ill to proceed on his journey. It so happened that I was to start the next morning for the Trent, and had a team engaged. So I told the sick man he could remain at my house over night, and I would take him down, in my boat in the morning, and give him a free ride in the waggon to the Trent. He made no observation about the small boat he left at the shore, further than that my sons could have the use of it. Some days after this, Payne, the constable, came to me to know if I had the boat some man had left at my shore; that it had been taken from Percy Landing; and was afterwards seen on my shore. I told Payne I knew nothing of the whereabouts of the boat, that I took to the Trent the sick man that brought and left it there. A day or two after, constable Payne brought me a summons from squire Telescope but nothing I could adduce saved me from being again fined to the amount of several dollars and costs, unless I found the boat and gave it up to the owner within eight days.
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