Parker Allen, Esq.

 

From “The Napanee Beaver, Jan 22, 1897

 

 

         Parker Allen, Esq., of Adolphustown, is now the oldest native resident of that historic old township.  He was born there on the 30th of December, 1811, and has lived there ever since.  Though now in his eighty-sixth year, he is enjoying fairly good health and in full enjoyment of his memory and intellectual faculties.  The history of the Allen family, to which he belongs, has been intimately associated with the history of Adolphustown since its first settlement.  They were among the first of the United Empire Loyalists who landed there on the 16th of June 1784.  In 1845, he was married by the Rev. William Macaulay, first rector of Picton, to a daughter of the late Thomas Nash, J.P., of Picton, who is still living.  They have had a family of six children, three of whom are now residents of Adolphustown.  The eldest son, Joseph, was a practicing physician for some years in New York.  He died in 1883, and lies buried in St. Paul's churchyard, Adolphustown.  James Alexander, the third son, a graduate of the Toronto and Ann Arbor Schools of Pharmacy, is in business in Portland, Oregon.  Thomas Nash and Charles Penner, the two remaining sons, are farmers on the old homestead.  The daughters are Mary Louise, wife of E. Botterell, Esq., of the Routine and Records Department, Ottawa, and Belle Caroline, wife of C.M. Nash, who is at home taking care of her aged parents.

 

SOME FAMILY HISTORY

 

         Mr. Allen's grandfather, Joseph Allen, was a large mill owner and successful business man in Monmouth county, New Jersey, when it was yet a British Province.  At the breaking out of the great American Rebellion for Independence, he largely supplied the British tropps with flour, pork and other provisions.  During his absence at a Quaker meeting one day his mills and store house were plundered by those in rebellion.  He at once went to New York, obtained a Captain's commission and raised a troop of cavalry among his yet loyal neighbours and rendered excellent service to the British cause during the long and bloody war.  At the close of the war he returned to his old home to find all his property confiscated and himself, in common with others equally loyal, exposed to great personal danger.  Hundreds were then imprisoned for no other crime than their loyalty to the British Crown.  He was compelled several times to secrete himself, his hiding place being known only to his slaves, which he held at that time.  They resolutely refused to betray him even after one of them had been strung up three times in an endeavour to extort information from them.  After several escapes, he and his family--like scores of others--managed with difficulty to reach New York  There he joined the U.E.L. band of refugees, under Major Vanalstine and sailed away for Upper Canada.  That company sailed from New York on the 8th September, 1783, with a fleet of seven sailing vessels, accompanied by the British Brig "Hope", armed with forty guns.  They slowly coasted around the Atlantic coast of New England, Nova Scotia and up the St. Lawrence, reaching Quebec on the 8th of October, a voyage of just one month.  At Sorel, farther up the river, they found it necessary to remain the entire winter, the season being too far gone to attempt going farther.  Here, early the following spring, the party were supplied with batteaux, built at Lachine, one for each four families, and in these they slowly toiled their way up the rapids, onto Kingston and up the Bay of Quinte, the shores of which were then an unbroken wilderness, reaching Adolphustown, their destination, on the 16th of June.  Here the whole party remained for some time in their canvas tents until the Government surveyor had completed his work and future homes were appointed to each family, by lot.  Mr. Allen's lot was near the landing place, and immediately adjoining Adolphustown village.

 

         His family consisted of two sons, John and Jonathan, then 12 and 14 years of age, and three daughters.  He afterwards moved over into "Fifth Town," now Marysburgh, Prince Edward county, where he erected the first saw and grist mills in the township at that time.  He died there in 1815.

 

         Jonathan Allen, father of the subject of this sketch, remained in Adolphustown and spent his days there, dying in 1846, aged 74 years.  He was a man of much business energy, and made several successful trips to Montreal with rafts of square timber, which was an important business in those early days.  He built, we believe, the first brick house in Adolphustown, a portion of which is still standing.  He married Nancy Dougall, of the well known U.E.L. Dougall family of Picton, who was born in 1775 and died in 1848.  They had six children, Joseph, Parker, Alexander, John, Gertrude who married our old friend J.J. Watson, Esq., so well known to many readers of the Beaver, and Ann, the wife of Mr. Vanalstine, of Marysburgh.  All these have gone to their last long home but the subject of this sketch.

        

SOME OF THE EARLY NEIGHBOURS

 

         The early neighbours along the Bay shore of front Adolphustown were the heads of well known families, not only in that historic township but throughout this Province.  Among these, as they came in rotation, beginning with the first lot on the east, were Daniel Cole, with a very numerous family, some of whom reside there yet; Henry Hoover, many of whose descendants still reside in this county and Prince Edward; Joseph Allison, the head of the well known Allison families of Lennox and Prince Edward; William Ruttan, whose descendants are now so well known all over Central Ontario; then came the Allens; just west was Capt. Maybee, also a well known family; then Nicholas Hagerman, the first practicing lawyer in Upper Canada, and father of the late Chief Justice Christopher Hagerman, and two of whose sons were elected to parliament; Col. Vanalstine, the leader of that noted U.E.L. band--he lived where William Pull now lives, and built that fine old stone residence still occupied at Pull's Point; Willet Casey, for some years the representative of the County in the old parliament, and father of the late Col. Samuel and Thomas Casey; Capt. Thomas Dorland and Philip Dorland, two Quaker brothers, both of whom were elected to the first Upper Canada parliaments, and both of whom have now a large number of descendants in all this section of Canada.

 

SLAVES IN THOSE DAYS

 

         There has been considerable controversy of late whether slaves were ever owned in this section of Canada.  The Allens brought three slaves with them, who remained with the family for years after.  Thomas Dorland also had a number of slaves who were members of the household as late as 1820, if not later.  The Pruyns, who lived on the front of Fredericksburgh, had, we are informed, over a dozen slaves with them.  The Ruttans, of Adolphustown, brought two able bodied negro slaves with them.  Major Vanalstine also had slaves; so had John Huyck who lived north of Hay Bay, and the Bogarts, near neighbours, and the Trumpours, on the opposite side of Hay Bay.  The Clarks of Ernesttown, owned slaves, who were with them years after their residence in Canada.  The Everetts, of Kingston Township, and Cartwrights, of Kingston, also had theirs.  It is to the credit of Upper Canada that during the second session of our first parliament an anti-slave law was enacted that prohibited any importation or selling of slaves, but did not prevent the then holders from retaining those they had.  For years a tree that stood on Finkle's Point, above Bath, was pointed out as one to which a slave had been tied and thrashed.  That was many years before England or any other province took such a step.  Canada was in the lead in this matter.

 

OLD TIME ELECTIONS

 

         Mr. Allen has been a life-long Conservative, and has taken a pretty active part in political matters in past years.  He was several times a member of his township council and twice represented his township in the County council.  In those days municipal contests often were very keen.  His first vote for a parliamentary representative was given for John Solomon Cartwright.  the election was then held at Bath, and there was but one polling place for the entire counties of Lennox and Addington.  The elections then lasted a whole week, and the usual custom was for the candidate of each party to "keep open house", where every elector of his party was allowed all he cared to eat and drink at the candidate's expense.  Great efforts were then made to get all voters to the polls.  Here is an incident of a later election which has been given us, which may as well be supplied here, as it gives a pretty vivid idea of how our fathers managed things during their election contests:  A hot election was to be held in Prince Edward County (David Stevenson being the Conservative candidate, we believe) and electors from long distances went to vote.  A sleigh load came from Kingston, consisting of John A. Macdonald (afterwards Sir John), Henry Smith (afterwards Sir Henry), Alexander Campbell (afterwards Sir Alexander), and John Forsyth, then also a prominent Kingstonian.  They all remained at Adolphustown over night, and were there joined by Parker Allen, Joseph Allen, John J. Watson and David McWhorter, all of whom had also votes at Picton.  When they reached the crossing place at the "Stone Mills", now Glenora, they found to their chagrin that some equally active spirits of the other party had also been astir.  All the small boats--some twelve or fourteen in all--along the Adolphustown side of the shore had been carefully collected and taken across the bay.  It was impossible to get them as the previous night had been such a cold one that the large ferry boat was frozen in during the night on the other side.  It was then determined to attempt crossing the thin, newly formed ice.  David Lake, who then kept the inn at the Mills, furnished plank and these were placed end to end across the thinnest places and the enthusiastic electors carefully crossed, one by one in that way.  One of the party was heard to say during the emergency he would cheerfully give $500 to be on either shore.  However, no mishaps occurred.

 

THE ADOLPHUSTOWN CHURCH

 

         Mr. Allen was in all his early life a member of the Church of England.  He was baptized in St. Paul's church, Adolphustown, when a small boy, and was a regular attendant of it as long as it stood.  That was one of the first Anglican churches built in this section of country, being erected about 1825, and was in regular use until the erection of the present Centennial church--St. Albans--the corner stone of which was laid by Lieut. Governor J. Beverly Robinson, during the U.E.L. centennial celebration on the 16th of June, 1884.  Mr. Robinson was a son-in-law of Christopher Hagerman.  Rev. Job Deacon, so well remembered by the old inhabitants, was the first rector.  He came to the township in 1823 and spent all the rest of his days there; he died in 1850 and was buried in the church yard there.  Mr. Allen became a warm friend of the late Lord Cecil years ago and became an active member of "the Brethren".  His house was Lord Cecil's home for some years.  It was while going there, and in full sight of his home, that Lord Cecil was drowned a few years ago.  A pathetic incident was that the dead man's coat, vest and watch floated ashore on his grounds before even the dead body could be reclaimed from the water.

 

THE EARLY SCHOOL

 

         A little east of the U.E. Memorial church, on a beautiful rise of ground, overlooking the bay, may be still seen some of the remains of the foundation of the old school house, probably the first in the township.  Around the place still stand the grand spreading elms that then surrounded it.  Here some of the leading men of this section of the Province were taught their first lessons.  Among Mr. Allen's playmates at that school house were the Macdonalds, "little Jack", afterwards Sir John, his sisters, Margaret, afterwards Mrs. (Prof.) Williamson, and Jane, all of whom now lie side by side in the Cataraqui cemetery; the Dorlands, Col. Samuel and Major Peter; the Caseys; the Trumpours; the Ruttans; the Harris's, and many others, all of whom have now passed over to the great majority, except Mr. Allen and Mrs. Garner, who still live near by.  The school house was then a small square log building, such as would now scarcely pass muster in a backwoods school section, but it was quite a noted educational centre then.  George Hughes was the teacher, a well educated Englishman.  Scholars, like the Macdonald family, the Trumpours and others, came miles, from Hay Bay shores and other parts of the township to attend; and others were sent from Picton, Brockville and other distant points to get even the advantages of such a primitive school as that.

 

THE EARLY BOATS

 

         Mr. Allen well remembers the first steamboat that ever sailed on the Bay of Quinte.  It was the "Charlotte", built in Bath in 1818, at Finkle's Point, and for years made its two trips each week from Carrying Place, at the head of the Bay, to Prescott.  That was the second steamer ever built in Upper Canada, the "Frontenac" being the first.  It sailed Lake Ontario, from Toronto and beyond to Kingston.  The "Charlotte" continued its trips for years.  Henry Gildersleeve, of Kingston, was its builder and one of its principal owners, and afterwards became its captain.  It was first commanded by Capt. Richardson, an old sea captain, who for years lived near Picton.  It made a speed of about six miles an hour, and considering the fact that it could pursue its due course right against wind and wave, it was deemed one of the greatest marvels of scientific progress.  Residents often came miles to see it pass, and during its first trips whole neighbourhoods of people flocked to the landing places to have a view of it.  Previous to that time all navigation was by batteau, rowed along, or pulled near the shores, with an occasional small sailing vessel.

 

                                                                                 T.W. Casey


 

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