History of a Farm
Lot 24, Concession 1, Hope Township
Compiled by Mrs Carroll Nichols, wife of the present owner


from the Cobourg Sentinal Star  Thursday January 13, 1949
Among the early settlers in the Port Britain district were the 'Waltons'. That name is still known, as the main street of Port Hope commemorated the family.

Let us go back to the time of the American revolution. Governor Simcoe, who was commander of the Queen's Rangers in the American Revolution became acquainted with the Walton family. Simcoe and the Queen's Rangers were quartered at Germantown near Philadelphia, in an effort to suppress the rebellion, and it was then that he made his acquaintance with the Walton family.

In 1783, when the war was over, the elder of the Walton sons, Capt Jonathan Walton, was sent with a government vessel, to locate settlers in the present township of Hope and was given 3000 acres of land for himself. His brother Nathan came to the new country in 1794, but went back to Philadelphia for his bride, returning with her in 1796.

Travelling to York by stage and horseback he embarked in Toronto harbour on a schooner bound for the east, intending to call at Smith's creek, now Port Hope. He had two hunting dogs. One ran ashore at the last moment and finding he was left behind, leapt from the wharf into a small boat putting off for the schooner, which had hauled out to an anchor in preparation for departure. He missed the boat but scrambled in, wetting a gorgeous gentleman who was being taken out to the vessel. His master was profound in his apologies. "And who", asked Governor Simcoe, for it was he, "is the owner of these fine animals?" "This gentleman, sir", said the Captain, "is Mr Nathan Walton, who hopes to establish himself at Smith's Creek." "One of the Waltons of Philadelphia who entertained me?" asked Simcoe. "Sir, I am delighted to renew your acquaintance." And learning his intention he wrote out a memorandum recommending a grant of 1200 acres of land to be confirmed by his successor.

Three miles east of Port Britain Nathan Walton with his bride, his hunting dogs and his household goods, landed and staked out his sudden inheritance.

Nathan first built a house of logs. His hunting dogs proved invaluable the first winter, when game was scarce and even the Indians were starving. The dogs would drive the deer through the woods to the lake, and in the water they fell prey to Nathan's long barelled gun.

Soon, Nathan built his second house, west of Port Britain, on the ridge looking down into the harbour. Today this site is known as the west half of lot 24, Concession 1, Hope Township. The house was built of planks laid face to face. Simcoe had recommended that he establish a manor, and the house with its railed roof and wings proved to be as manorial as the resources of the infant province permitted. The exterior was cut and painted to look like stone, with two fireplaces and two wings containing bedrooms heated from these fireplaces. This house stood for many years on the ridge until accidentally destroyed by fire around 1857. A grove of lilacs still marks the place where this house stood.

In the fall of 1813, when Sir Gordon Drummond, newly arrived in Quebec as Governor, was pressing on to York, at the fork of the road above Port Hope, he took what he thought was the wrong turn and so proceeded along the lakeshore road through Port Britain. Darkness overtook him and he enquired about his way at the next house he came to. It was Nathan Walton who took him in and insisted that he stay the night.

Mrs Walton was in bed with a young son. The cavalry escort was accommodated in the barn. This same barn is from all appearances, still in use today on the farm now owned by Carroll Nichols, having been moved some years ago from its old site south of the road. The officers were given beds in the house. In the morning the Governor paid for the accommodation in gold and bestowed his name upon the baby, Gordon Drummond Walton, who is buried in the Wesleyville cemetery.

Nathan Walton died in 1857 and is buried in St Mark's Churchyard, Port Hope. His tombstone says he was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The bell in St Mark's church is inscribed, 'J Walton, Albany and Aspinall, 1826'. These are possibly names of Jonathan's estates. Possibly the bell was a gift to his brother Nathan, and from him to the church.

It was Nathan Walton who had the crown deed to the farm occupying west half of lot 24 and east half of the same lot, concession 1, Hope township. The deed is dated July 24, 1799.

In the year 1851 Nathan Walton willed the south west portion of lot 24 to his son Charles.

In 1852 he willed the east half lot 24, also the west half of same lot and concession lying south of lakeshore road to his daughter, Eliza Ann Sisson. It was this portion given to Eliza Ann Sisson that makes up the farm now owned by Carroll Nichols.

In 1860 Eliza Ann Sisson willed her farm to her sons William J W Sisson and Bruce Sisson.

From all appearances it would seem that the Toronto General Trust Company held a mortgage at the time Mrs Sisson willed her property to her sons. It is believed that the farm was rented for quite a number of years.

In 1890 James Nichols bought the farm from the Toronto General Trust Company for six thousand, seven hundred and thirty-one dollars.

In 1857 the Grand Trunk railway was opened running east and west along the lakeshore. Around 1902 or 03 there was a head-on collision between two freight trains almost directly in front of the house. There were three of the train crew killed.

In 1904 this lakeshore route was abandoned and a double track line was opened through the north end of the farm.

In 1912 and 13 the CPR was put through.

The trunk line of the Bell telephone came through in 1895 along the lakeshore road. When going through this district the workmen had their camp at the east side of the house. The main line of the Bell telephone was moved to the concession road running along the north end of the farm in 1935.

The Port Hope Telephone Co line was Installed on Aug 7, 1909.

William T Nichols, son of James Nichols, took over the farm in 1905.

Comparing prices of some of the farm products found in an account book kept by William Nichols forty years ago, and the present day, we find that in 1908, eggs sold for around 30 cents a dozen, and butter for 33 cents; in 1948 butter was 74 cents; pork was 7 cents live weight, 30 cents dressed weight; beef 4 cents a pound in in 1908, 23 cents a pound in 1948. The taxes in 1908 were $42.84; 1948 - $170.00.

In 1946 Carroll Nichols, son of William T Nichols, became the owner of the farm which contains one hundred and six acres and is practically all tillable land. The main barn is approximately 70 years old and the front part of the house is a hundred or perhaps more years old.

In 1945 hydro was installed, which has proved to be one of the best aids in lessening farm work.

Those who have passed on
They gave to me the love of earth; the simple life.
To be content with country home, where peace and love abide. Away from the noisy crowded city.
In spring when Nature is at her best, its a joy to behold.
In summer the fields their crops yield forth.
And then the smell of furrows brown and wet.
Winter comes and Nature sends her blanket of snow.
It's a joy to live so near to God's good earth.
To all that's fine and good and clean. Generations come and go, but the Earth moves on.
His promise to fulfill.

 


June (Shield) Nichols



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