History and Timeline - Kent County Ontario GenWeb
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Kent County is located near the South-Western tip of Ontario, between London and Windsor. Have you hit a brick wall with your Kent County ancestors? Search for your family origins on Kent County GenWeb. I hope this site will help you find that brick-wall ancestor.
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Kent County Records
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Kent County History

See the township and city pages for local information. This page is for general history covering the entire municipality.

Also see History of Upper Canada - Canada West - Ontario for an outline of the history of Ontario

Also see 1846 Districts and Name Changes Upper Canada - Canada West - Ontario for a timeline and boundary changes for the present day province of Ontario

Search online books: Kent Historical Society : papers and addresses. Volume 1

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Officers
  • Contents
  • Prefatory Note
  • Pioneer Life in Kent County
  • Lord Selkirk's Baldoon Settlement
  • The Roman Catholic Church in Kent County
  • The Old Log School House
  • The Birth of Chatham
  • Annual Members
Kent Historical Society : papers and addresses. Volume 2
  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Officers
  • Contents
  • 1. Our Storied Past
  • 2. The Presbyterian Church in Chatham
  • 3. Municipal Government in the County of Kent
  • 4. Historical Sketch of the Press of Chatham
  • 5. The History of the Twenty-Fourth Regiment of Canadian Militia
Kent Historical Society : papers and addresses. Volume 3
  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Contents
  • 1. Notes on the History of the Chlurch of England in Chatham
  • 2. The Kent Bar
  • 3. Tecumseh
  • 4. French and Indian Place Names in Kent and Adjoining Counties
  • Roll of Honor
Kent Historical Society : papers and addresses. Volume 4
  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Officers
  • Contents
  • 1. -- The Medical Profession in Chatham and Kent Co. -- A History
  • 2. -- The Early Indian Occupation of Kent County
  • 3. -- A Short History of the Park St. Methodist Church of Chatham, Ont., to 1914
  • 4. -- Growth of Methodism in Chatham and Vicinity
  • 5. -- Some Notes on the Buxton Settlement, Raleigh Tp.
Kent Historical Society : papers and addresses. Volume 5 Cover
  • Title Page
  • Officers for 1923-1924
  • Contents
  • 1. Early Settlement and Surveys Along the River Thames in Kent County
  • 2. Pottawattamie Indians of Walpole Island
  • 3. What the Women of Chatham Did During the Great War
  • 4. Some Remarks on Birds
  • 5. A Morpeth Newspaper
  • 6. Some Additional Notes on Morpeth
  • 7. Early History of Shrewsbury
  • 8. The Tecumseh Memorial Boulder
  • 9. In Memoriam

Pioneers and Early Settlement

The Kent County area began to be settled in the late 1700s, and there seem to be many groups of settlers who arrived from the United States. Many of the first settlers were United Empire Loyalists, arriving after the Revolutionary War from the United States. Other groups of settlers arrived from the US in the aftermath of the War of 1812; for example, groups of natives settled near Moraviantown. This area is also significant for black history.

The area was originally part of the Western District of Upper Canada, until 1853 when the districts were abolished and counties were created.

Farm Life and Social History

Essex County Farm Life is very like what life on a farm in Kent County would have been like back in "the old days."

Black History

By 1851 there were more than 35,000 people of African descent in Ontario. Many of these people lived in the south-western part of the province, with thriving communities in Buxton, Dresden, Chatham and Windsor areas.

Benjamin Drew wrote about the blacks in Canada 1856 in his 1856 book "A NorthSide View of Slavery. The Refugee: or the Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in Canada. Related by themselves, with an account of the history and condition of the colored population of Upper Canada" A CD ROM is available [$]

For a detailed history of Blacks in Ontario and links to many databases (Newspapers, Military records, census and more), see Black Settlements in Ontario

  • Underground Railroad - Dresden was the northern end of the Underground Railroad, which led slaves north to freedom. Today, Dresden is the location of Historic Uncle Tom's Cabin.
  • Buxton National Historic Site (formerly Raleigh Township Centennial Museum)
  • African-Canadian Heritage Tour
  • Ontario Travel - Black Heritage
  • Black History - Ontario GenWeb
  • Some books on black history, specifically related to Kent County are:
    • The History of the Negro Community in Chatham, Ontario by John Kevin Anthony Farrell, 1955
    • Blacks in Buxton and Chatham, Ontario 1830-1890, by Jonathon William Walton, 1979
    • Seek the Truth: A Story of Chatham's Black Community by Gwendolyn and John Robinson, 1989 contains many biographical sketches
    • You will also find lots of books on Josiah Henson, the man on whom Uncle Tom was based, in Harriett Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Railroad History


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