Pioneer Days in School Section 12
compiled by F. L. Maddock
Published for the trustees
Guelph Publishing Company
When the Trustees of S. S. No. 12, Puslinch, sent out an appeal for information as to the early history of this school, I soon learned on investigation that many of the older residents of this section had long since passed away, while others had moved to different parts of the Dominion. The response to a number of letters soliciting assistance brought but few replies, nevertheless, three of these contained a wealth of information.
Mrs. Grace Stevenson of Port Haney, B.C., forwarded an old map of
the district drawn in 1874, and in addition, a long account of the early
history written by her brother, the late Thomas Kernighan, who attended the
school in the sixties of the last century.
This account is entirely from memory and was written for the purpose
of self-amusement as the writer was more or less of an invalid for a number
of years prior to his death in Vancouver, four years ago. Mrs. Peter Henderson (nee Eleanor
F. L. Maddock.
Early History of S. S. No. 12,
The Section comprises about 4000 acres, and is situated in the
extreme northwest corner of the
The Schoolhouse is a large stone building, situated on the
south-west corner of the rear half of lot 5, con 4, and was erected in the
year 1854. The contractors for the
building were Rudel Bros. of
Prior to the building of this school a young lady named Agnes Lawrence
taught a private school in the
I think that the first person to hold the office of School Superintendent or Inspector was Rev. R. Torrance. During all the time that I was a pupil, the Superintendent was Rev. Jas. Kilgour.
The gentlemen who acted as trustees during the time I have any remembrance of were Messrs. Robert Brown, Thomas Waters, William Stevenson, William May, John Rudel and Cornelius Pannabaker. Mr. May was Collector of School Taxes until a change in the law abolished the office.
Soon after the school was started, a good library was secured, the funds being provided by the Department of Education, and the books being selected by a committee consisting of David Stirton, Thomas Jarmy and Thomas Kernighan. Mr. Kernighan acted as librarian, and the books were kept in his house for a few years. Afterwards, the library was removed to the Schoolhouse.
Soon after the school started, the Great Western Railway was building their line from Galt to Guelph, and a number of their employees lived near the school and sent their children there, and during Mr. Hart’s time the attendance ran as high as 80 or 90. In my time, it would average 50 in winter and 30 in summer, but I believe it is much smaller now.
Commencing at the south-west corner of the Section, the first lot, viz., rear half lot 1, con. 3, and front. half lot 1, con. 4, was owned by Philip Holm. He was succeeded by his son David who built a large flour mill and sawmill on the place. The farm is now owned by Edward Doyle and the mills by W. A. Kribbs. Rear lot 2, con. 3, was the farm of Nicholas Cober. He had a large family of three sons, John, Jacob and Peter, and four or five daughters, of whom I remember the names of Sarah, Martha, Mary and Hannah. John Cober built a shingle and planing mill on the south end of this farm, which is now owned by B. Neustadt and the rest of the farm by W. Pannabaker. Lot 3 and west half of lot 4 in rear of con. 3, was the farm of Cornelius Pannabaker. He had two sons, Elias, who succeeded him on the farm and Samuel, a blacksmith, and two daughters, Anna and Esther. This farm is now owned by Walter Holm. William Bear had a blacksmith shop on this farm, which was afterwards occupied by S. Pannabaker. East half lot 4 and lot 5, rear con. 3, was owned by Jacob Cober. He had twelve children, but I only remember the names of Solomon, John, Isaac, Eno, Matilda, Annie and Rebecca. The farm is now divided between Solomon and John Cober. There is a Church and Cemetery on the north-east earner of this place which belongs, I think, to the Mennonites.
Rear half lot 6, con. 3, was divided into two parts. The south 50 acres was owned by Neil Holm, and now by R. Chester. The north 50 acres was owned by John Evans. Evans gave it to his daughter, Mrs. James Salt, and her son Samson lived on it a number of years, and it is now owned by his brother John Salt. Lots 7 and 8, rear of con. 3, was the home of William Evans. His family were Fenton, John, Mary, Alfred, Addy, Thomas and David. Thomas Evans now lives on the place. Front of lot 2, con. 4, was owned by James Salt. His children were Samson, Jane, Mary, James, John, Joseph, Annie and Samuel. It is now occupied by John Greive. Front lot 3, con. 4, was owned by Adam Durst. It was afterwards owned by Gavin Hume of Galt, who rented it successively to Jas. Dimmick, Edward Colleton, Jas. Henry and others. It was afterwards owned by S. Pannabaker, and now by J. Eggert. There was an acre off the south-east corner of this place with a house which was occupied in my time by Valentine Fisher and by John Warner. Front half lot 4, con. 4, was the home of Thomas Jarmy. He had two sons, Thomas and Charles and two daughters, Theresa and Sophia. Jarmy sold to James Evans, who also owned the front of lot 5, con. 4. Evans had a family of four sons and three daughters, viz : George, Joseph, Smith, James, Elizabeth, Sarah and Annie. The farm is now owned by Smith Evans and worked by his sons.
Front lot 6, con. 4 was the farm of William Jones. He had no children but was married to a
widow named Jotham, who had two sons and three
daughters, viz George, Fred, Julia, Mary Ann and
Ellen. Jones sold the farm to Robert
Brown and it is now owned by a man named Neighbour. On the
Front of lot 10, con. 4 was the property of Douglas McGregor. His family members were Peter, Alexander, Janet, Henrietta and Agnes. After his death, his son Peter owned the place for some years and then sold to John Thompson and it is now owned by D. Galbraith. Front of lot 11, con 4 belonged to William Thompson. His family was Robert, Hannah, Sarah, John, William, Nathan, Joseph and Edgar. T. Cassin now lives on this farm. The rear halves of lots 1 and 2, con. 4 were owned by Jacob Miller. He did not live on it but rented it to Levi Eaton. He had two sons and two daughters, viz, Enoch, Mary, Alice and William.
Rear half lot 3, con. 4, belonged to Peter McNaughton, who had three sons, James, Peter and Alexander, and two daughters, Annie and Margaret. This farm and also the Eaton place are now the property of The Christie-Henderson Lime Company. Rear lot 4, con. 4 was first occupied by James Crane. Succeeding him was Thomas Henry. Then John Rudel, who had a large family. Their names as far as I can remember were Abram, Mary, Aaron, Sarah, Ida and John. It is now owned by W. Eckhardt. There was a house on the south-east corner of this farm which was occupied by Joseph McCullock and afterwards by Mrs. McGurk. Rear lot 5, con. 5, was the farm of a Dutchman named Surares, but in my time was owned by his son-in-law, David Strome. His children were Leah, Elizabeth, Hannah, Noah, Andrew, Margaret, Benjamin, Rachel and Solomon. The farm is now the property of J. Eckhardt.
The school site is on this farm.
Rear lot 6, con. 4 was the farm of Thomas Kernighan. It was taken up
first by William Harrison, who rented it to several tenants and then sold it
to a man named Kerr, who in turn sold to Kernighan. The family consisted of three sons and six
daughters, viz, Jane, Joseph, Elizabeth, Rosanna,
Matilda, Thomas, Eleanor, Samuel and Grace.
This place is now owned by Andrew Aikin.
Rear halves of lots 7, 8, 9 and 10, con. 4 and lots 7, 8, 9 and
10, con. 5 were first taken up by Roland Wingfield and sold by him to John Howitt. Lots 7 and
8, con. 4 were kept for a long time in woods, except a small field at each
end. The north field was worked by
John Campbell, whose children were Richard, Sarah, Elizabeth, Margaret and
These lots were afterwards divided across and the south halves now
belong to Joseph Lynch. The north
halves were owned for a time by Benjamin Strome and
are now the property of G. Wingfield.
Rear lots 9 and 10, con. 4 were rented by Howitt
to Isaac Simpson, and then in turn, to James Keppell,
James Cunningham and William Smith. T.
H. Bedford afterwards owned those lots, and they are
now occupied by J. D. Clarke. On the
north-east corner of this place is situated a
When Roland Wingfield came from
Perhaps it might not be amiss to say a few words about the
character and habits of these early settlers.
I think the chief characteristic, which will occur to any one
acquainted with those men and women, is the sterling honesty and uprightness
of almost every one of them. The south-west
part of the section was largely settled by
Although for over thirty years a licensed tavern was maintained in the centre of the section, it can truly be said that none of the farmers, with one possible exception, ever patronized it, in fact the greater number never entered its doors.
Our people were also good church attendants. There were two churches within our bounds
and those who did not attend the local services, generally drove to
Our most popular celebrity was Mr. David Stirton who was the
Member of Parliament for
We also had our share of tragedy. I have a very distinct recollection of the day that Douglas McGregor committed suicide. There was another case of suicide, when Mrs. Ross, the wife of the teacher, hanged herself, but that was before I can remember. There was another tragedy enacted in the hotel at the corner, when the hotel-keeper, Wheedan, lost his life. An inquest was held, as a suspicion was entertained that his wife and a man named Hooper were connected with his death, but no proof could be produced. Another time, a poor tramp was found dead near the school, but nothing was discovered as to his identity or cause of his death. Another sad occurrence was the death by drowning in the river Speed of Joseph Kernighan. Of course, every death in a small community is considered a personal loss by every one, but I think that the few mentioned are the only violent or unusual occurrences which happened in our midst.
The amusements of our young people consisted principally in
attending private parties in farm houses in winter, and boating excursions on
We also appear to have been of a musical turn. Elias Witmer
taught a Singing School in the schoolhouse during the winters of, I think,
1861 and 1862 and again 1867. W. J. Kilgour also taught
I will now make a list of those who attended school between January 1863 and March 1871, which was the time I attended myself, as far as I can remember them.
January 1863-March 1871.
Strome Benjamin Strome Solomon
Snelgrove Andrew Thompson Clara Thompson Frank Thompson Jesse Thompson John Thompson William Thompson Nathan Thompson Joseph Thompson Edgar
Wanner Henry Woodhouse Sarah Woodhouse Charles Walker William
At the present time, 1919, there are 32 of these dead as far as I know of viz, Joseph and Rosa Kernighan, James, Annie and Samuel Salt, David Little, Joseph, Henry, Noah, Andrew and Margaret Strome, James, Mary and Addy Evans, Douglas Waters, Richard, Annie, Mary, William, Charles May, John, Nathan, Clara and Jesse Thompson, Aaron and Sarah Rudel, John Howitt, William Walker, Rebecca Cober, Mary Enoch and William Eaton, Agnes Stirton.
The following were married, viz, Fenton Evans and Annie Salt, Thomas Armstrong and Annie Walker, Richard Campbell and Martha Barber, Enoch Eaton and Sarah Fisher.
The following are the only ones of the pupils named who at present reside in the section, viz, Smith and Thomas Evans and John Cober.
Mr. Hart, Mr. Eby and Mr. Kilgour are the only teachers living.
The parentage of these pupils was: English 60, Dutch 40, Irish 38
and Scotch 8. The parents of these
children, in common with thousands of others throughout
Although none of the boys mentioned ever attained any position of National importance, there were several of them who have been trusted by their fellows to fill positions of more or less importance. Thomas Armstrong was Reeve of his Township in Muskoka for several years. John Cunningham was a prominent Alderman in the City of Guelph; James Stirton has for over twenty years been Postmaster in the town of Morden, Man.; Thomas Kernighan was for three years Mayor of the town of Carman, Man. Of course, there are several of whom I have been unable to keep track, but all that I have knowledge of, developed into good citizens, a fact that may well be taken as reflecting a measure of credit on our teachers. If we did not profit by the efforts of our teachers, as much as was desirable, it was our own faults, as they were a pains-taking and careful lot of men, and I hope have met their reward.
I have on several occasions, since the days of my attendance there, driven past the old school, but only on one occasion have I been inside the door, when I called for a few minutes. Miss McQueen was teaching. Everything appeared much the same as in the old days, except that there were new seats, and the playground had been enlarged.
Now, as I said at first, I have had nothing to base my remarks on except my memory, and as over forty-five years have elapsed since I have had any direct connection with the place or people, it can readily be understood that errors may have gotten into my story. I have been unable to follow the after life of all my fellow pupils, especially the girls, and more of them may be living in the neighbourhood than I have named, also more of them may be dead.
I have told all that I know about my subject, and will be well repaid for my trouble if what I have written is of interest to the few into whose hands it may fall.
An Account of the Early History of School Section No. 12
(By Mrs. Peter Henderson,
I was always told, when a child, that I was born when the school was built, so I was just exactly as old as the school. Perhaps that was why I have always been proud of No. 12, and liked to hear stories of happenings at the school long before I was able to attend. But I never met anyone that has as good a memory as myself, so I feel I can give you a true account of what happened so long ago.
In the year 1855, there was one quarter of an acre bought from Mr.
David Strome from the south-west corner of his farm
on lot No. 5, concession 5, Puslinch, and the school was built that summer
and classes started before winter. The
trustees had some trouble in finding suitable teachers, Messrs. Clairman, McCarty and Ross being found unsuitable. They
were fortunate in securing the services of William Hart, a youth of sixteen
but a very clever scholar who taught for four years with success. All old timers in
No serious trouble ever took place in our school. A Mr. Kirkland, father of the late William Kirkland, was entrusted with a sum of money to use as he thought fit to help struggling schools. He very cleverly spent it on a fine library for No. 12. It really was a fine collection of books, being biographies, histories, poems, stories from history for the half grown children, simple stories and poems for the little ones. There were several hundred volumes. I do not remember many of the trustees, but it seems Mr. Cornelius Pannabaker was often a trustee. Mr. David Stirton, Robert Brown, James Evans and Smith Evans also served as trustees. The names of the men whose children attended the school, when I commenced school and was eight years old at the time (1863) were Messrs. Bierns, May, Manuel Marshall, David Stirton, Isaac Simpson, Thomas Kernighan, David Strome, Tom Henry, Enoch Eaton, McNaughton Bros., William Thompson, Douglas McGregor, William Stevenson, William Jones, James Evans, James Sault, Nicholas Cober, Cornelius Pannabaker, Jacob Cober, Sampson Sault, Miss Oakes (who was taking higher mathematics preparing to be a teacher).
Before No. 12 was built, a Miss Agnes Lawrence taught the larger
girls in the little Methodist Church (then a frame building and called
“Kirkland’s Apportionment”, but when I visited it in 1907 it was called “Howitt Memorial” and was built of stone.) While speaking of this little church and
cemetery, I wish to speak of an old man who lived on a farm to the east of my
father’s farm. His name was James Meakin and he is buried near the north fence of the
cemetery, and was a British War Veteran, and fought at
A Further Account of the History of No. 12
(By Mr. Joseph Thompson of Owen Sound, Ont., Feb. 12th, 1935.)
Originally No. 12 and the section East of it were in one section, and the school was on the north east corner of my father’s farm, and that was Lot 11, concession 4, Puslinch. Just when it was made into two sections I do not know, but my brother John, I am quite sure, went for a while to the old school house. He was born February 24th, 1845. I was born January 11th, 1860. The old school was used as a dwelling at the time of my birth, Mr. Downey living in it and his daughter (Lizzie) being born there the same week as I was born (January 1860).
The first teachers I can remember anything of, and teaching in No. 12 were, Mr. Mewhart and Mr. William Hart. I cannot recall who taught first. Then followed Charles Eby, Daniel Talbot, John Gillies, McLean, William Kilgour, and then another Mr. McLean. I don't remember any of the trustees excepting Mr. Pannabaker and Mr. Robert Brown. I hope this will help you, in preparing a history of the school.
(From Mrs. A. Stevenson (née Grace Kernighan)
Port Haney, B. C., April 23rd, 1935.)
Too much credit cannot be given to the teaching of W. J. Kilgour. He suffered from his lameness, yet taught and instilled in his pupils a love of learning. He read to the older ones from studies not on the school curriculum from which we took notes and thus were in advance of our time. He taught us also to sing, and to recite. In addition, while hampered by a cane and a crutch, he organized a baseball team known as “Kilgour’s Athletics”, and taught them the game. All honour to his memory.
Teacher and Students at No. 12, October 1935.
The Confederate Publishing Company,
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