The Doller Family

 

From “The Napanee Beaver, Feb 5, 1897

 

 

         On Sunday morning last, Mr. Lewis Doller, one of the old and well-known farmers of North Fredericksburgh, died very suddenly at his residence, aged 76 years and one month.  He had been in poor health for some time, of heart failure, but had improved a good deal within the last few weeks.  On Saturday he was in Napanee, attending to his ordinary business and was in better health and spirits than for some months past.  On Sunday morning he was taken suddenly ill and died within a few minutes.  Mr. Doller was a life long resident of this county.  He was born near the White church, Morven, on the 29th of December, 1820.  When quite a young boy, his father moved into North Fredericksburgh, where he has spent all his days.  He was a quiet and industrious farmer, a liberal in politics and a member of the Methodist church.  He married Miss Catharine Dunbar, a daughter of the late Andrew Dunbar, who died in Napanee several years ago.  She is a sister of Mr. John Dunbar, and Mrs. Fred McGuin, now residents of Napanee and of Mr. E.H. Dunbar, of Fellows P.O.  They have four children living.  These are Mrs. George McKim, formerly of Napanee and now of Watertown, N.Y.; Mrs. Norman Garrison, of Fredericksburgh; Mrs. Wellington Loyst, of Ernestown; and Almon Doller, residing near the Morven White church.  The funeral took place at the Morven cemetery on Tuesday and was largely attended.

 

         As the Beaver has of late been giving sketches of the history of several of the pioneer families of this county, it may be as well here to relate some facts of the Doller family, who have been among the well known residents for nearly eighty years past.

 

         Charles Doller, the head of this family, was a native of Germany and spent all his early days as a soldier.  He was first in the army of Napoleon Bonaparte, being one of the levies from among the young men of his day.  He was in some of the most terrible battles which so devastated Europe during the earlier years of this century.  He was taken prisoner by the British during the Peninsular war, and volunteered his services to the British.  He was enrolled in the celebrated De Watteville regiment that took an active part under Wellington in Europe, and during 1814, the last year of the great American invasion of Canada, the same regiment rendered memorable service in Canada, under General Gordon Drummond.  He was a member of the memorable expedition from Kingston, under Commodore Yeo and General Drummond that made a successful attack on Oswego.  That was on the 6th of May, 1814.   After a short and decisive battle, the British made good their landing, drove the Americans out of their fort, which was dismantled and partly destroyed and a large amount of public stores seized; the soldiers' barracks were burned and a number of cannon and smaller guns, with large quantities of gunpowder and shot, together with one thousand and nine hundred barrels of flour and salt were carried back to Canada.  Mr. Doller received his share of the bounty money from the Government for his part in that successful expedition.  He also took an active part in that terribly bloody battle of Lundy's Lane, fought on the 25th of July, 1814, one of the fiercest conflicts that ever took place on Canadian soil.   The American army, with 4,000 men, and the British, with 3,000, came together on the afternoon of that memorable day and got into a hand to hand engagement, which lasted long hours into the night.  Each army well understood that the fate of Upper Canada very largely depended on the result, and the desperation and bravery on both sides were truly heroic.  After midnight the Americans withdrew from the field, the British lying down and sleeping among their guns and their dead and wounded comrades.  In the morning the Americans hurriedly fled back to Fort Erie, and some across the Niagara River, in many cases throwing their tents, arms and supplies into the river to prevent them from falling into the hands of the British.  Over a thousand men were left dead or dying on the field that day.  The result of that battle, however, changed all the purposes of American invasion and conquest from that quarter.

 

         In August another terribly bloody engagement took place at Fort Erie, nearly opposite Buffalo.  Here the American army had strongly entrenched themselves behind strong fortifications, and General Drummond resolved to rout them out and drive them from Canadian soil.  There was fighting for a whole week, during which two American gun boats were captured and a third one escaped by flight.  The cannonading on both sides was briskly kept up for six or seven days.  At midnight, on the 14th, General Drummond resolved on a general and final attack..  The night was dark and cloudy, but in the midst of it a terrible battle ensued, in which the De Watteville regiment took a prominent part.  After hours of hard fighting in which many were killed, the British got inside the fort, and just when final victory seemed within their grasp, a terrible explosion took place in the centre of the bastion.  Fragments pf earth and stone and the bodies of hundreds of men rose in the air and came down blown into fragments.  Whether this was the result of design or accident has never been made known.  It saved the little American army, however.   Both commanding British officers were killed during that terrible night and a large share of the brave men.  Gen. Drummond reported the loss of 904 men, in killed, wounded and missing, and the American loss was also large.  Mr. Doller was then taken prisoner and kept as such until an exchange between the two governments at the end of the war.

 

         The battles of Oswego, of Lundy's Lane and at Fort Erie were among the decisive ones of that whole year's campaign, which turned the scale and frustrated the American "conquest" of Upper Canada.

 

SOME FAMILY HISTORY

 

         At the conclusion of peace in 1815, Mr. Doller received his honorable discharge and resolved to become a resident of Canada.  He was married in Kingston to Sarah, daughter of Mr. Tyndale, a U.E. Loyalist, and first settled in Kingston.  Here Charles the oldest son was born, in September, 1817.  He is still a hale and hearty man, now in his eightieth year, and is probably the youngest old man we have in our midst.  The family soon after moved to Ernesttown and settled on what is still known as Vrooman's Corner, nearly opposite the White church.  They remained there until 1836, and it was there the rest of the family were all born.  The father died in 1856, aged 75 years and his remains now lie in the Morven cemetery beside those of his wife and three sons who have joined their parents in the Better World.  The surviving children are Charles, already mentioned; W. Nelson and John, both well known residents of Napanee, and Charlotte, wife of Samuel Bell, Esq., of Ernesttown.  Two sons, Jacob and James, died when young men at their parents' home.

 

AN EARLY SCHOOL

 

         The older Doller brothers were all attendants at the old red schoolhouse, standing just nearly in front of the old Gordanier tavern, which was a leading school in the county sixty years ago.  One of their early teachers was "Joe Neilson", son of old Doctor Neilson, who resided in that locality.  "Joe" was an intelligent and ambitious young man.  Not succeeding in business here to his satisfaction he went to New York, studied law and became a prominent lawyer in that great city.  He afterwards became one of the well known judges and presided during the celebrated Tilden vs. Beecher case in New York about twenty years ago, which at the time attracted more attention than any other case in America.  The papers at the time gave him a good deal of credit for the ability with which he held well in hand the ablest lawyers in the country who had to do with that case.  He married the only daughter of the late John Gordanier.  When he died a few years ago, his body was brought to Morven, where it now lies among his kinsmen and former school fellows.  He was an uncle of Mrs. John McKim, of Selby, and her sisters the Misses Neilson of this town, and of Mr. W.R. Gordanier, also a resident here.

 

         Among some of the schoolmates of Charles, Lewis and Nelson Doller of that time may be mentioned the late William H. Gordanier, of Morven, and his sister already referred to; Miss Eliza Keller who became the wife of W.H. Gordanier and her sister Maria, now Mrs. James Fellows, of Napanee; Charles Smith, the father of our enterprising townsman Mr. Jake Smith; David, Daniel and Henry Perry, now all dead, but yet well remembered; John B. McGuin, so well known in Napanee, Newburgh and Bath, who died here a few years ago, and his brother, Henry, who now resides in Leeds county; William Derby, brother of Mrs. George, of the court house; Franklin Fralick, and Nancy Perry, who afterwards became his wife, both of whom are yet well remembered here; Peter Fralick, the father of our townsman Henry Fralick and John Fralick, of Morven, and a score of others who became heads of well known families in this county.  Nearly all of them are now gone, and many of them sleep in the Morven cemetery.

 

THE YORK ROAD

 

         As so few are now at all familiar with the history of the McAdamized road from Napanee to Kingston, it may be as well to give some facts of its history here.  The elder Dollers all assisted in the building of that road.  It is, or was, one of the best and most substantial ever built in Canada, and its permanency well illustrates the importance and value of building roads properly in the outset.  It was begun in 1836, the work of the Provincial government, and was intended as a link of a great public highway from Kingston to York, now Toronto, and it was therefore well known as "the York road".  Mr. Cull, an English Civil Engineer, was its engineer.  He was grandfather of Mrs. H.T. Forward and Mrs. Peter Bristol, of Napanee, and of Mr. Joseph Cull, of Mitchell.  The two sections first built were from Kingston to a couple of miles west of Mill Creek now Odessa, and from Napanee to the stone bridge, half a mile or so east of Charles Lowry's place, in Fredericksburgh.  Funds then became exhausted and it was not until 1843 that the connecting link was completed.  Mr. J.M. Parrott informs us that the road from Kingston to Odessa cost 30,000 pounds, or $120,000, but it has afforded a splendid road bed ever since, and will do so for a generation to come.  Its advantage in giving a good road to Kingston market was the making of fortunes to many residents along its line, and largely helped in building up Kingston itself.

 

OUR NAPANEE BRIDGE

 

         They well remember the building of our old and substantial bridge across the river here, which though built in 1840--56 years ago--is still substantial and sound.  Many have, no doubt, observed its peculiar construction, how the planks are so fixed and fastened as to make a solid truss.  The whole sides were first thus fastened together and then raised to their proper position.   As machinery was not so common and perfect as now "main strength" had to come into play.  Hundreds of men from Napanee and miles round were needed, and the Dollers lent a hand to the business.  It was a hard day's work, but all was got up in one day.  That was before the days of municipal councils.  Squire Fralick (the father of Mrs. C.B. Perry and Mrs. P. Aylsworth here, and Messrs. Jacob and James Fralick, of Picton) and Squire Clark, of what is now Camden East, were the commissioners to oversee that job, and well they did their work.

 

                                                                                                                     T.W.C.

 

 

 

 

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