Our Clarke Families


The Connell's

James Connell came from Scotland and settled in the township of Leeds, in Eastern Ontario. His son David, who was born in this country, and who had established himself in the township of Yonge, traded farms with one Johnson who was settled on lot 30 of the fourth concession of Clarke. The progress of the family on their way up through the country in 1838 was slow indeed. The cows were driven the whole distance, as was also an ox-team, the family themselves were carried with horses and sleigh. Clarke at that time, and for long afterwards indeed, was largely bush. Stories are still told of men who were lost in the woods near where Orono stands and spent the whole night walking to and fro to find a way out. The wolves were so thick that they have been known to follow the children of the early settlers to the very door of their houses. Mr. Solomon Hooper's children were several times chased after this fashion to their home, which was situated where Tucker's furniture factory now stands.

David Connell was the first teacher at Antioch, and several of his scholars are still living among us as venerable men. He not only combined teaching with his farming operations, but he was the sole dentist in this district too. He also was useful to his neighbours in those doctor-less days when any were taken sick, being able to frequently relieve their ailments. He and Mr. Solomon Hooper used to spend part of their Sundays at times among sick people - the one relieving their pain, and the other reading the Scriptures and praying with them. This was in the days before any churches had been built hereabouts and when congregations were wont to assemble, when occasion offered, in the large log barns of the settlers, where cackling hens would disturb the service, or a restless baby would be rocked to sleep in a handy sap-trough.

The Renwicks were then as now living to the South of the Connell family, and the story goes that one morning after the wolves had been particularly noisy and savage the whole night through, Mr. Renwick came up to the Connell homestead to see if they had all been devoured. He had seen marks of blood about and was filled with consternation. It seems a steer had been killed and eaten by the wild beasts who had grown furious and quarrelsome over their feast.

After Mr. David Connell fell heir to some more property in the east he traded again with one Turkington, who lived on the place where Mr. Philip Biglow now resides. This place remained in the family for a number of years but was afterwards sold. It has changed hands several times but the original home of the Connell's is now owned by descendants bearing the name.

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