Huntingdon Township Pioneers

Pioneers of Hastings County

Exerpts from the Illustrated Historical Atlas of the

Counties of Hastings and Prince Edward


Prepared by Linda Herman

Huntingdon Township

Huntingdon Township

The same difficulties were experienced by the pioneer settlers of Huntingdon as those of adjoining townships. There were no roads, so to speak, plenty of wolves; no stores or mills nearer than Myers Creek; no schools except of a very primitive character; no places of worship except at the houses of the pioneers on the front which for years was but sparsely settled. In consequence of the above mentioned and other drawbacks, arising from its geographical position, remote from business centres, markets and the regular tide of enterprise it was not permanently settled and brought under general cultivation until more than twenty years later than the townships to the front of it.

Huntingdon is rectangular in shape and is bounded on the north by the township of Madoc, on the east by Hungerford, on the south by Thurlow, and on the west by Rawdon. It was first settled in the year 1816 or 1817. In the latter year it is recorded that there were five permanent settlers in the township, with a total population of twenty-six inhabitants. These were probably the families of the Ketchesons and Ostrom from the front, Anthony Denike, Philip Luke and Foster, who settled in the neighborhood of what is now Moira P.O. A contemporary settlement was effected at a point to the west, now known as West Huntingdon PO., probably by the Ashley family.

The township is well watered by Lake Moira, and the Moira River, Rawdon creek and its tributaries, a branch of the Scoutamatta, and Boyne creek. Moira Lake better known as Hog Lake, is one of the largest and finest of the back country chain of fresh water lakes, and is situated in the northern part of the township and on the Moira river. It embraces an area of something over 2,000 acres, and its waters contain a variety of fish indigenous to this section of the country. It is also noted for its unusually large and sonorous bull frogs and immense turtles, large numbers of the former being annually caught and shipped to the Montreal and New York markets. The Moira river in Huntingdon is deep, and is in places completely surrounded by impenetrable marshes and swamps; it is a favorite haunt of the wild duck and other game, and also of sportsmen. Rawdon creek takes its rise from a small natural lake in the 11th concession, and traverses the township in a south-westerly direction; a tributary of Rawdon creek has its source in the 5th concession, connecting with the main branch at a point in the 4th concession.

The following names occur as being among the early settlers on the first three concessions: Ketchesons, Vandewaters, Hagermans, Spencers, Vantassells, Cronks, Thompson, Morton, Emerson, Salisbury, Clare, Utman, Snieder, Thrasher, Aikenbrock, Gerow, Merrill, Hoskins, Post, Sills, Scryver, Luke, Rashnell, Lloyd, Hamilton, Fitchett, Maynes, Marsh, Holgate, Sheffield, Way, Newton, Coulter, Dafoe, Haggarty, Ryan, Jeffrey, Read, Mitts, Clapp, Cook, Sarles, Hawkins, Detlor, Wilson, Streeter, Ross, Vandusen, Rupert, Sharp, Rutledge, Dorland, Anderson, Woods, Nicholson, Hollinger, Collins, McAvay, Herity, McKim, Haight, Darling, Post, and Murray. A large number of the above were sons of United Empire Loyalists, from the older settlements on the front, who drew land in the second and third tier of townships.

As usual with townships at that early period the town meetings were held in the dwelling houses of the ratepayers and beyond the simple recordings of the proceedings no further business was transacted throughout the year. The "minutes" from year to year were "taken down" upon a piece of paper, which eventually became mislaid or destroyed.

The earliest township records extant, in the possession of the Clerk, J. G. Foster, only date back to 1848. We have, however through the kindness of John McCammon of Hungerford, been furnished with a copy of the first town meeting held in Huntingdon, which we reproduce, the place of the meeting being omitted.

"The annual township meeting of Huntingdon for the year 1836. The following resolutions were made and resolved: That Phillip Luke serve as Town Clerk; Robert Reid, Samuel T. Darling, as Commissioners; John Detlor, as Collector; Henry Ketcheson, as Assessor; James Haggerty, as Town Constable; Robert Wilson, Merrell Streeter, Daniel Ross, Robert Vandusen, John Anderson, John McConnell, Robt. Rutledge, Phillip Ketcheson, Henry Newton, Jonathan Haggerty, William Coulter, James McClusky, Elisha Phillips, Hugh McMullen, Andrew Sharp, John Wood, Conrad Rupert as Overseers of Highways; Westell Streeter, David Nicholson as Poundkeepers; John Ketcheson, John Andrews and John McKay for rest of Township.

"Resolved – That all hogs be free commoners over and above the weight of 60 pounds. That all cattle be free commoners for the present year.

"That rams be not free commoners, from 1st Sept to 18th November.

"That boars be free commoners. That fences to be lawful, should be five feet high, and no intervening space over six inches. That the next annual township meeting be held at John McKay’s Inn.

Huntingdon, Jan 5th, 1836. Richard Newton, Chairman"

At the meeting held on the 16th of January, 1836, the following rules were allowed and established by the Board of Commissioners for pound-keepers in the township of Huntingdon: - "7 d per head for each horse, or each head of horned cattle for 24 hours, and to furnish them with 14 lbs of hay each; 1d per head for sheep and calves for 24 hours, and to feed them at the rate of 14 lbs of hay for six sheep or six calves; 1d per head for swine, each 24 hours, to feed them with a pint of peas or corn, each head. Poundkeeper’s fees:- Each horse, cow, or ox or bull 9d; each sheep, calf or hog, 4d.

"Commissioners, Nesbet Reid, Samuel T. Dorland, Simon Ashley"

It is related that much excitement prevailed at these early town meetings, on account of the"west towners," who came in force armed with clubs, who wanted to have things all their own way; matters were however amicably arranged, and the meetings thereafter conducted in an orderly manner. From the date of this first meeting up to 1848-150 the several officers were appointed for the year next ensuing, bills and accounts audited, and except the "assessing" and collecting of rates and taxes, the whole work of the municipality was completed in one day.

In 1848, the earliest records extant, we find that at a meeting held in the public school-house in the 3rd concession, a short distance of the present village of Moira, Thomas Baker was appointed Clerk, Anthony Denike, commissioner and Henry Ostrom, Collector.

In 1849-50, under the Municipal Act, Anthony Denike, George Graham, Samuel Baker, Archiblad Pringle, and Henry Ostrom were elected by a popular vote of the township, Councillors for their respective wards. Anthony Denike was chosen Reeve, Thomas Baker, township Clerk, Henry Ketcheson, Treasurer, Phillip Luke and George Mowatt, Auditors, Daniel Ross, Collector, and Joseph Foster, Surveyor of roads.

From 1850 to date, the following named gentlemen have represented the township in the County Council, in the capacity of Reeve, - George Graham, 1851-2 and 3; John Maynes, 1855; Phillip Luke, 1856-7; Thomas Emo, 1858, and who is the present representative, having held the position for eighteen years; James Haggerty and Henry Otrom also held the Reeveship for one year each.

The township Council for 1878 is constituted as follows:-

Thos. Emo, Reeve; Mathew Robinson, Deputy Reeve; James Foster, John Gordon, and Henry Morton, Councillors; J.G. Foster, township Clerk and Division Registrar of vital statistics; Elijah Ketcheson, Treasurer; Alex. Harvey, Collector; A. R. Ketcheson, Surveyor. Total number of ratepayers, for 1878, 640. Total population about 3,200.

The village of Moira was established at an early date in the history of the township. It contains, besides the town hall, one general store, two blacksmith shops, one cheese factory, J.G. Foster, President; one church and one post office, the first in the township, previously situated further east, Henry Ostrom, P.O.; and several private residences. It is pleasantly situated at the base of a large hill, which shelters it from the west winds, and is the most important village in the township.

There are three Canada Methodist churches in the township, - one at Moira, one in the eighth concession, and another at West Huntingdon; Revs Philip and McCamon, pastors. There is also an Episcopal Methodist church at West Huntingdon, Revs. Finn and Pomeroy, ministers. In the 6th concession there is a Bible Christian church, Rev R. Baker, minister; and in the 7th concession is the Presbyterian, presided over by Rev. M. Gray, of Stirling. At the village of Roslin are two other churches in the first concession. In 1845 there were only two frame and a few log schoolhouses, situated respectively in the 2nd , 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 13th concession.

There are five post-offices in the township.; West Huntingson, James Gray, P.M.; Moira, Henry Ostrom, P.M.; Fuller, Mrs John Fuller, P.M.; Ivanhoe, Thos. Emo, P.M.

The 7th division Court sittings are held in the Town Hall, Moira; Thomas Emo, J.P. and Commissioner in B.R., Licence Commissioner for North Hastings, clerk etc.

There are three cheese factories in Huntingdon. One is situated upon a branch of a creek that takes its first rise upon the farm of H. Ostrom, at Moira. Another is situated near West Huntingdon; and another in the 6th concession. These factories have a large manufacturing capacity, and are fitted throughout with all the latest modern appliances, which enable them to compete favourably with the factories in the front. Their stock is of an excellent quality, and commands the highest price in the Belleville markets.

There are three saw-mills in the township, - one upon Rawdon Creek, in the 2nd concession; another on the stream on the north side of the narrows of Moira Lake; and another upon a small stream known as Deer creek, which empties itself into Moira Lake. These mills are of modern construction and are capable of turning out many thousand feet of lumber daily.

There are eight blacksmith shops situated at different points of the township , all doing a fair country business.

The Belleville and North Hastings railway runs through the township, entering in the 2nd concession and running in a north-easterly direction through the township crossing the narrows of Moira Lake, thence to Madoc. The road will be completed this fall.

The Huntingdon macadamized road runs through the whole length of the township, commencing at the south-western extremity and crossing Moira at the Narrows by an extensive and well-built bridge, and striking the northern boundary at a point upon lot No. 12 which forms a part of the corporation of Madoc.

The township is in an advanced state of cultivation, as is attested by the many fields of heavy and nearly matured grain to be met with on every hand. The people are apparently prosperous and happy, neat comfortable dwelling houses and well appointed outbuildings have superseded the log shanty and lean-to of the early settlers, modern and luxurious furniture has replaced that of antiquated design. Light traps and carriages have become a necessity, the ox cart of the pioneer being of no use to the present generation. Costly fabrics, gotten up in the latest and most approved fashion, are worn instead of the homespun of our pioneer mothers. The fathers of Huntingdon belong to another age, and may in justice exclaim, "The times are changed and we are changed with them."

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