Mariposa Township Pioneer Settlement History

The official survey of the Township of Mariposa, whereby its lands were placed in the market, was made in 1820; but much of the territory was secured by the Canada Company, and certain Family Compact arrangements also placed a large portion in the hands of G.S. Boulton. The lines in Mariposa, as in other townships of Victoria County, run north, sixteen degrees west. The whole area within its bounds is 75,102 acres. It has on the south Lake Scugog, making a deep broken front; on the east Ops and Fenelon; on the north, Eldon; and on the west, Brock Township, of Ontario County. The principal stream is Davidson's Creek, rising just beyond the Brock boundary, entering Mariposa in the 7th Concession, flowing northeasterly to the 13th, then bending and running southerly, till it flows easterly into Ops, in the 3rd Concession. This creek receives a few smaller streams during its passage through the township; but none of any magnitude; Big Creek, as it was called in the early days, itself being big only by comparison with its almost insignificant branches. The Nonquon Creek just cuts the southwest corner; and in the northeast corner, lying partly in Eldon, is Goose lake. The surface is moderately undulating, and here and there are swamps, but usually of little depth and easy drainage. The land is generally rich, with heavy clay sub-soil; and Mariposa, from a repulsive wilderness, has in half a century advanced till it now has more first class farms, fine brick residences, and good farm buildings, than any other township in the County.

The date of the first permanent settlements in Mariposa is hard to determine, owing to the fact that many who first came in got discouraged and left within a few years. The causes assigned for this are the prevelence of ague, the severity of frosts, and the trouble and expense of guiding and feeding the many who came to hunt lands, but not to locate in the township. A man named Love has been credited with having settled at or near what is now the village of Manilla as early as 1820, but other old settlers think there must be a mistake as to time. However the first permanent locations seem to have been made in that part of the township, as S.Patterson settled in that neighborhood in 1827. Patterson was from Markham; and it is remarkable that the successful pioneers were such as had been used to bush life at the front. Among the first to remain at the north were found the names: Ewing, Hough, Mcleod, McPherson, Pilling and Winters, up to 1830. At this time a man named Fenton kept a tavern for the accomodation of travellers, mostly land hunters or survey parties, on the town line, on the Brock side, now Manilla. Lands in the township were then bought from the Canada Company at from $1.50 to $2 per acre; but the rate afterwards advanced. United Empire Loyalists rights were bought from $20 upwards, and some were for less. These entitled the holder, when they proved genuine, to the location of 200 acres of Crown Lands. A right to 400 acres in the north part of the township was sold in Whitby for $10, that the seller might pay a whiskey bill of $8, concerning which the tavern-keeper was abusing him; and land was subsequently taken up upon it.

Just before and during 1831, there was an influx at the north of Scottish emigrants. At the same time their settled in the township several who had purchased land by their military pensions. Settlers from the older parts of Canada continued to find their way in, either as purchasers or holders of location rights, got for a mere song from their original owners. In this year the Land Office was bothered with Mariposa, and refused to grant locations in the township, except on an express pledge of settlement. From this it may be judged that lots had been taken up, merely to be held.

Of names of early settlers along the north, or Eldon Line, up to 1834, are those of Black, Calkins, Campbell, Charlton, Copeland, Grant, Irish, Kinnell, McCrimmon, McCuaig, McGinnis, McLean, Ringland, Spence, Wick, and Wright. At the western boundary there were a few more, one Edwards, and another Williams, locating there in 1831. In the same year Samuel Dick settled near the present village of Oakwood, his nearest neighbor to the east being nine miles off, in the next township. About the same time, or shortly after, that is to say, during this and the three following years, there came in from the south, ARMITAGES, BACONS, BUNNELLS, DAVIDSONS, DeGEERS, DeLONGS, DUNDASES, HAIGHTS, HUBBELLS, LAKES, LLOYDS, MARKSES, MINTHORNS, McNEILS, McWILLIAMSES, O'BRIENS, PENROSES, PIERSONS, READERS, RICHARDSONS, ROADHOUSES, TAYLORS, TIFTS, WAITes, and WELDONS. Most of these settled in the vicinity of Big Creek, and toward the centre of the township, but few then locating at the south, and a few on the line between Oakwood and Manilla, which was even then a leading road, though a rough one. For years there was no regular communication between these settlers and those at the extreme north, a large tract of difficult forest intervening.

But even at this time there was an organization of the township's affairs in connection with the Newcastle District. Louis Winters was the first tax-collector, and E.R. Irish acted as Clerk at the yearly town meetings, and also as Clerk of the Magistrates court for Eldon and Mariposa, composed of himself, Ewing, Williams, and Calkins, the latter acting as bailiff or constable.

For two or three years a few settlers continued to come in each year, prominent among them being William Brown, who settled in the east of the Township, Wm. Bowes, and John Cruse, a Quaker.

Then came the troubles of 1837, brought about by the tyranny of an irresponsible executive, which had yielded to the rapacity of numerous hangers-on. Many in the township were pressed into military service, and men were ordered to turn out in support of the so-called Loyalist cause, no matter what their circumstances. Those who hesitated or refused to leave farms or families requiring their attention were abused, hauled about under accusation of disloyalty, and threatened by neighbors with the burning of their buildings if they did not march in support of the detestable Family Compact. Many had their guns taken from them. A few went out to the front to join the ranks of the Patriots, and several Mariposa men were among the prisoners who were promised and expected similar martyrdom to that of Tomet and Matthews. Joseph Pierson, a suspected person, had a couple of years before, been appointed the post-master. The office was taken from him and given to one Wallace, a man of no education, and a change being found absolutely necessary, the position was transferred to Jacob Ham.

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