R E M I N I S C E N C E S of the Earliest Settlement Of PORT HOPE Number III

Mr. Samuel Marsh, son of the late Col. Marsh, a U. E. Loyalist, settled in Consecon on the Bay of Quinte about the year 1792, where he married. Two years subsequent to that date he sold his farm and transferred himself, his wife and their personal property to Smith's Creek, which they reached by coasting along the lakeshore in an open boat. They finally settled at the point now known as Port Britain, where Mr. Marsh erected a shanty, the roof of which was covered with basswood bark; and into this primitive mansion he installed his newly wedded wife. But they were young, and nothing disheartened by their humble position, from which they looked forward to a happy and prosperous future. Mr. Marsh commenced to build a saw mill, and subsequently he erected a grist mill, blacksmith shop, distillery, and a large two storey dwelling house, which during the war of 1812, he opened as a tavern, and as the front road was the only thoroughfare to York, his place became the welcome rendezvous of the British officers and soldiers.

In 1801 our old and respected townsman, James Sculthorpe, Esq., then a young boy came here to reside with his grand father, Elias Smith, Esq., with whom he had been brought up since infancy. To give the reader some idea of the abundance of salmon in the Creek in 1807, we may mention that it was at that period no rare occurrence for the fishermen of one boat to catch one or two hundred fishes (sic) in a night. Our then young friend, in company with his uncle, J. Smith, Esq., caught in one night no less than three hundred -- the largest haul ever made, and for which they refused the sum of $50 the following morning. -- In the same year young Sculthorpe and J. Taylor went to fish in the cove, near the mouth of the river, and close by where the slate house of the late Capt. Wallace now stands. Here an almost fatal event took place. They had no sooner entered the cove when Taylor was seized with convulsions, (to which he was subject,) and fell into deep water. The commotion caused by his falling into the water, and that produced by his companion's jumping out of the boat, so alarmed a large shoal (sic) of fishes that, in their precipitation to escape, they carried the canoe with them, capsizing it in their course. Mr. Sculthorpe ran for help, which he obtained, but he and his companions, upon returning, found to their dismay that Taylor had disappeared. Their consternation can be more easily conceived than related, but they were speedily relieved by discovering Taylor -- who had been somewhat restored by the douse in the water -- lying upon the hill, whither he had crawled in an exhausted state, from which, however her soon rallied. Upon returning in the morning for their boat, our heroes found it upside down and 32 fine salmon contained beneath it!

Some slight description of the facilities afforded for the crossing of the creek at this period may not be out of place, the more so as it will contain an incident in our young heroes’ career. Where the lower bridge now stands, was a structure formed of slabs, placed upon upright sticks for buttments. While crossing this structure, during the prevalence of a very high spring freshet, he fell into the flood and was carried down the stream some thirty rods before he was rescued. In 1912 he volunteered for the term of six months, the period of service required in the militia, and was stationed at Kingston upon garrison duty, where but one affray took place during his term of service. It resulted from an attempt of the American vessels to enter the harbour and take a British war vessel from her moorings. The warm reception which they received from the Fort, however, caused them speedily to cease from their bold attempt. At the expiration of his term of enlistment, young Sculthorpe returned to Smith's Creek with the preferment to the rank of Sergeant, in which capacity he acted during that winter in "pressing in" farmers with their sleds, to convey men and munitions of war to York. This position was no sinecure insomuch as he had to travel through the back concessions on foot in the discharge of his duties. In 1813 he was, through some unfairness, as he thought, drafted to serve six months longer in the militia -- a difficulty which he obviated by hiring a man to take his place. On the arrival during the summer of a boat, on its way to York with Lower Canadian recruits, the latter thinking that no one understood their language, agreed among themselves, in the presence of the Sergeant, who comprehended their conversation, to commit depredations upon grandmother Smith's potatoes in the evening. Mr. Sculthorpe prepared himself with a quantity of small stones as ammunition, awaited their arrival, and received them in the darkness of the night with such well directed showers of his small shot, that they beat a speedy "Bull Run" retreat.

It will probably not be uninteresting to mention here a mysterious instance of hallucination which our hero experienced in 1808, in the presence of Mr. Nicholas Maizier, better known as "Uncle Nick." The story run as follows.. Mr. Juston Johnston, who is still living in the Township, was chopping on the Caldwell's arm (sic), on the lake road, now occupied by J. B. Hall, Esq., and was expected to finish his contract by three o'clock in the afternoon by Uncle Nick, with whom he was boarding. But while conversing with another man in the presence of the young Sculthorpe, near the saw mill, about eleven, a. m., Uncle Nick was astonished to see Johnston cross the beam which spanned the Creek where now stands the bridge at the foot of Walton street, with his axe on his shoulder. Losing site of him when near the distillery of Elias Smith, jr., a little south of the old log malt house, near the Royal Hotel is now situated, he sent young Sculthorpe to see why he had come so early, when to the amazement of all, he was not to be found, nor had he been seen by any of the men. Mr Johnston returned at the appointed time, only to share in the general astonishment which the mysterious occurrence had created.

We hope that our readers will bear with us in our narration of the simple events of which we have treated, as we have no old and ruined castles or deserted cities, or other antiquarian relics, to engage and interest the mind. We are placed on ground where there are no traces of any human being having preceded our pioneers. (5 and a half lines blacked out) rendezvous with the aborigines of the country, and at one time, their battle field, no doubt where many a brave man have fallen.

The grave of an Indian chief was disclosed when the house of Samuel Edsall, Esq., was in course of erection. The skeleton of this warrior was found in a sitting posture, with tomahawk, scalping knife, stone-pipe, and other relics by his side. There was also one of these sepulchres accidentally discovered in 1857-8, on a farm in the township of Hope. Here hundreds of Indians were entombed, evidently at the same time, as evinced by the state of preservation of the skulls and bones; indicating that this spot too had been the scene of a bloody aboriginal conflict. Our old friend Mr. Wilson, of Perrytown, has in his possession some Indian relics found by him when ploughing on his farm, consisting of pipes and chisels, carved by a practised hand out of stone not indigenous to this part of the country, also articles of earthenware the origin of which it would require the researches of an antiquarian to determine. Mr. Wilson would, with pleasure, we are certain show them to any person desirous of seeing such interesting relics.

The late Mr. James Hawkins, Senr., arrived here in 1801, from Montpelier, the capital of Vermont. He was one of the most useful men in the settlement, his great mechanical genius fitting him for the place he had chosen as his abode. He was the right man in the right place and filled a vacancy -- several vacancies -- much felt by the settlers. He was blacksmith, joiner, carpenter, bricklayer, stone-mason, in fact everything in the mechanical line suited to the wants of the little colony in its early days. His first work was to finish the blacksmith shop (of which we made mention in our last,) placing in it a trip-hammer propelled by water-power, the first we believe, in the province. Late in the winter he went to meet his family at the German Flats on the Mohawk River, whither they had come to await his arrival, with relatives who resided there. -- There he built the boat which was to convey him to Smith's Creek, and as soon as navigation opened in the Spring of 1802, started with his wife and eight children -- four boys and four girls -- up the Mohawk to Fort Stanix, now Rome, crossed the two-mile portage to Wood Creek and travelled on by Oneida Lake to Oswego. They then coasted on the southern shore of Lake Ontario to Gravelly Point, (Cape Vincent) where they met with an experienced boatman on his way home to Canada, and who accompanied them, his services greatly ameliorating their hardships. They crossed to Kingston, then coasting along the shore of Kingston Bay and the Bay of Quinte reached the Carrying Place, and after making this short portage, re-entered Ontario proper, and advanced hugging its northern shore, until they reached their destination. When their boat was gracefully gliding up the beautiful serpentine river, studded with islands, which have given peace to the most spacious and the safest harbour on the north shore, between Toronto and Kingston, one of the girls in her youthful joyousness held up her apron in imitation of a sail to accelerate the crawl of their faithful craft through this picturesque and enchanting spot, thereby creating a pleasing picture which called forth hearty cheers from those on shore -- who had assembled to welcome the voyagers -- the sound being echoed and re-echoed from the surrounding hills, as if the forest's on either hand were joining in a grand chorus of congratulations.

Mr. Hawkins, immediately erected the red house in rear of Sculthorpe's block of brick stores, He, himself manufactured all the nails, door hinges and latches used in the building, erected the chimneys, plastered the rooms, and finally became the landlord of the stately edifice.

We shall not attempt to give a minute history of the multifarious doings of this place of entertainment; for, though many of its bacchanalian revelries might be related, they might not prove highly edifying to our readers; we therefore let them rest in oblivion.

There is, however, one incident of the Red Tavern we cannot let pass: -- a traveller on horse-back, from the rear country, called here and secured his horse in the shed, leaving him with the happy assurance that all was well. When ready to depart, and on going to remount, fancy his dismay at finding his saddle, stirrups and bridle -- all made of straw -- eaten by the cows! How he got out of this plight, we know not.

The inroads made upon the forest up to this date, (1908,) began to give the colony a cheerful aspect. The resound of the woodsman's axe and the crash of the falling trees broke the monotony of the solitude. Thus we bring these reminiscences to a close, for the present, hoping that some other hand will resume and continue them by relating facts and occurrences which may have escaped our notice.

O. T.

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