from The Guide October 25, 1877
Captain Jonathan Walton, uncle of the wife of William Sisson, of this town, was another prominent person among our
first settlers and requires more than the passing notice we gave him in our first
letter. Though not considered as a permanent settler, he seems to have adopted this
section as his favourite location for the time he did reside in Upper
Canada. It was by his recommendation that our pioneers located in this picturesque
locality. A brief history therefore of him with relation to Smiths Creek and the Township of Hope will not, we trust, be uninteresting
to our readers.
He was a native of the State of Pennsylvania and when the Revolution broke out he and his family evinced a strong desire to continue under British
rule. When the British Army occupied the City of Philadelphia under Lord Cornwallis, he assisted in supplying them with
provisions. This and other friendly acts engendered a bad feeling towards him by his fellow-colonists, which rendered his situation
perilous. He therefore threw himself under the protection of Lord Cornwallis and
remained in the city. Here he became acquainted with Major Simcoe (afterwards General) who was stationed under Lord
Cornwallis. When the British evacuated the city, he embarked in one of
HM's war vessels for Digby in Nova Scotia where he made his home.
From that time until he arrived in
Upper Canada we know little about him, except that he followed a seafaring life; and having obtained a
merchant vessel under his command, he crossed the Atlantic several times in his craft on
mercantile business. On one of his visits to England he accidentally met with General Simcoe in the streets of
London, who promised to befriend him at some future period not far distant.
When he heard that General Simcoe had arrived in this country in the capacity of Lieutenant Governor of the new Province of
Upper Canada, he immediately left Nova Scotia for this country. On his arrival at
Newark (now Niagara), the capital of the Province, he was kindly received by this good and humane old soldier, the
Governor, who entered into an agreement with him and Mr Elias Smith,
that if they obtained 40 settlers from the other side within a specified time to settle in the Township of
Hope, a free grant of 200 acres of land should be given to each, and they (Messrs Smith and Walton) should
have the remainder of the land in the Township granted to them for
compensation. They, however, failed in obtaining the requisite number of settlers in the specified time and therefore the agreement became null
and void. The Governor then granted each 3,000 acres in the Township, part of which
is that on which Port Hope is situated, to recompense them for what they had accomplished in obtaining settlers.
Mr Walton resided but a short time in this country after he had become the recipient of the
Governor's magnificent gift. He settled in Schenectady in the State of New York, opening a general store, as he
afterwards alleged at the instance of Governor Simcoe, so that he would be better
enabled to induce emigrants to settle in Upper Canada and assist them in coming.
He, however, made several periodical visits to Smith's Creek and sent a boat loaded with goods yearly for several years, with a clerk as supercargo, to trade with the
inhabitants. The route which they took to reach Cape Vincent was the same as our
first settlers followed; thence they crossed over to Kingston, whence they coasted along the north shore of Lake Ontario to this
The main street of Port Hope is named after him. In 1832 he made a present of the church
bell that still occupies its place in the belfry of the old St John's Church, now
St Mark's, situated on the beautiful eminence in the eastern part of the town.
But to return. Abraham Walton, Esq, father of the subject of this notice, was possessed of a very
extensive landed property in Buck County, in the State of Pennsylvania, about 12 miles
distant from the City of Philadelphia; and being a strong adherent of the
British, had his large and valuable estate confiscated. He determined
to emigrate to Nova Scotia and when about embarking with his family, his
friends intervened and insisted on his remaining. Through the
intercession of the Hon Mr Morrison, one of the prominent signers of
the Declaration of Independence, the Government restored his property to
him and he remained.
In 1797, Mr Nathan Walton, father of Mrs William Sisson, when a
young man arrived at Little York on his way to the Township of Hope, where he intended to
settle. He was at a loss how to proceed farther on his journey as there was no road between this place and the place of his
destination. Being alone he had no desire to travel through the impenetrable forest
Governor Simcoe was preparing to leave this country at the time and as he was going down the Lake
some person informed him at the time he was embarking on board the boat of the dilemma the stranger was placed in, whereupon he was
immediately invited on board the boat, cheerfully promising to land him at
Smith's Creek. Mr Walton had brought a deerhound this far and fearing
that he would be trespassing too much on the generosity of the Governor, left him
ashore. The howlings of the faithful animal by being thus separated from his master
attracted the attention of the Governor, who, on being made cognizant to whom he belonged and
the purpose for which he had brought him, ordered him to be brought on
board. On the well-known call of his master, he swam to the boat and when he got on board, in
shaking himself, wet the Governor, who received the splashing with that urbanity so characteristic of the
When the Governor learned that the stranger was a brother to Captain WaIton, he promised to
give instructions to President Hunter to give him 1,000 acres of land in the Township of Hope, which was duly fulfilled.
Mr Myndert Harris, Sr caught the first deer through the efficient instrumentality of the hound imported by Mr Walton.
The first Court of Justice was held in the Town of Newcastle (Presque Isle), Justice Thompson of Kingston
presiding. The Jurors for want of a proper room retired to the open air, and here, under the broad canopy of heaven,
occupying a fallen tree for their seat, under the vigilant care of the constable, accommodated with the same kind of
an easy chair, at a respectable distance, deliberated on the merits of the case and rendered the first verdict of the
first court held in the old cherished District of Newcastle.